East-central Alberta’s Lakeland College is set to offer what’s billed as Canada’s first degree program in agriculture technology, as a two-year post-credential program, starting in September.
The program, announced Wednesday, will consist of full-time studies at Lakeland’s campus at Vermilion, about 180 km east of Edmonton, plus “experiential learning practicums” off campus, en route to a bachelor of agriculture technology degree.
The program, Lakeland said, is meant to “bridge the gap between emerging technologies and agricultural management and production systems.”
“There’s a lot of technology already available and in use in the agricultural industry,” Michael Crowe, Lakeland’s vice-president of academic and research, said in Wednesday’s release.
“However, few people have an in-depth understanding of how to use it and the information it collects, or how to integrate that information into their commercial farm operations and agriculture businesses.”
Those enrolled in the program are to study smart agriculture as a management system, including data collection and analysis as well as interpretative tools and programs such as robotics, geospatial tools and artificial intelligence, as well as how to analyze and troubleshoot industry-leading hardware, software and data platforms.
Students on campus are to work on the college’s student-managed farm and at a new 8,000-square foot ag technology centre — an “on-farm lab” that’s expected to be open later this year, Lakeland said.
Students’ practicums, meanwhile, are to be done at ag data companies, technology and equipment manufacturers, dealerships, crop input service providers, agronomist service companies, crop and livestock service centres, farms, breeding and genomic companies, among other operations, the college said.
It’s expected that graduates of the program will be able to find work in assorted ag-related fields, such as in data services, development, management, precision technology, production, research or sales with ag tech companies, research organizations or equipment dealerships.
“Industry feedback indicated there is a shortage of agricultural professionals who can interface between the two disciplines — our degree program will fill that gap,” Josie Van Lent, dean of Lakeland’s school of agriculture technology and applied research, said in the same release.
Since the degree program is new, there’s no direct pathway yet set up for a master’s degree program, Lakeland said, but the college “will work with you and any receiving institution if you are interested in a graduate degree.”
In the future, the ag tech program may also offer opportunities for professional-development courses related to new tech and equipment, the college said. — Glacier FarmMedia Network