Lakeland College is offering Canada’s first degree in agriculture technology, for the fall of 2021.

The college says the degree will enable students to keep ahead of the curve of the rapidly evolving world of agriculture technology.

Starting in September 2021, the two-year, post-credential program consists of full-time studies at the Vermilion, Alta., campus and experiential learning practicums off campus, all designed to bridge the gap between emerging technologies and agricultural management and production systems.

Michael Crowe, vice president of academic and research at Lakeland College, says few people have an in-depth understanding of the already available technology that is out there, or how to integrate that information into their commercial farm operations and agriculture businesses.

“Our new degree program will produce graduates who can effectively use emerging technologies and the data they produce in commercial agriculture to provide important answers on return on investment,” he says.

Students will delve into crop and livestock farming and smart agriculture as a management system, including data collection and analysis, as well as the use of interpretative tools and programs such as robotics, geospatial tools, artificial intelligence, and more.

Josie Van Lent, dean of the School of Agriculture Technology and Applied Research, says they wouldn’t be able to provide a program like this without the support and help from industry.

“Graduates of the program will bring unique skill sets into the workforce by blending both agriculture production and agricultural technology expertise,” she says. “Valuable industry feedback indicated there is a shortage of agriculture professionals who can interface between the two disciplines — our degree program will fill that gap.”

Students in the bachelor of agriculture technology program will complete their on-campus studies and hands-on training in Lakeland’s new agricultural technology centre, which is slated to open later this year. The 8,000-square-foot building at the Vermilion campus will be an on-farm lab where students gain experience working with new ag technologies and analyzing new data-sets.

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