A Farm Equipment Special Report: What Will Agriculture Look Like in 2021?

Fresh-from-the-classroom college of ag graduates may be a hot commodity for the equipment dealership of the future.

Ag students learning in college

Fast-shifting ag technologies are creating a tough learning curve for farmers, crop consultants and equipment dealers. Not to worry. Ag colleges have taken note and are working to churn out well-rounded candidates to fill increasingly technical agricultural positions.

Colorado State Univ. is at the forefront of merging applied technology with general agricultural education. For the past 11 years they have offered a 4-year Applied Information Technology in Agriculture degree.

"Students take classes in the discipline of ag they're interested in — plant science, soil science, crop production, animal science — and we couple those with technology-related courses such as geographic systems, remote sensing, programming languages, data management, GPS and statistics," says Raj Khosla, Colorado State Univ. professor of precision agriculture.

Job announcements that used to say, "Knowledge of GPS desirable," now say "Knowledge of GPS required," Khosla says. And he expects those technology demands to continue to grow with the evolving technology in the ag market.

"Agricultural companies that are hiring, require students to understand agriculture and technology because those are the questions farmers are asking," says Khosla. "Agronomists, crop insurance agents, even bankers need to understand the technology to better service the industry. If a grower is applying for a loan to automate, the banker needs to understand the benefits and efficiencies gained."

Khosla predicts more land-grant universities are designing major degrees that cater to the changing job requirements of the agricultural industry.

"Students undergoing these degrees are in high demand and are climbing the ladder fairly quickly," he says. "Demand for their talent will help create more similar programs."

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