Inside the ARECs: New tractor yields economic and educational benefits for Kentland Farm

The Agricultural Research and Extension Centers are a network of 11 research centers located throughout the state that emphasize the close working relationship between the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and Virginia Cooperative Extension. “Inside the ARECs” highlights the work and accomplishments of these 11 centers and will appear in every Insights.

Industry partnerships are becoming more prevalent in higher education, and agricultural technology students at the College of Agriculture and Life Science’s Kentland Farm are experiencing the value of industry partnerships in a big way.

One of the more recent industry collaborations in the college occurred between the college and Hoober Inc., a farming equipment supplier based in Ashland, Virginia. On Oct.13 the company donated a tractor to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to support the college cropping operation at Kentland Farm and learning initiatives in the Agricultural Technology Program.

Ag Tech tractor at Kentland Farm

Pavli Mykerezi, director of Agricultural Technology Program, left, and Saied Mostaghimi, associate dean and director of Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station, look over the new tractor that Hoober Inc. is lending to the college.

The relationship came about because of Ian Watkins, an alumnus of the agricultural technology program, and employee of Hoober Inc. For several years Watkins has been bringing equipment from Ashland and exposing students in the program to precision farming expertise.

The tractor will be used in all phases of the college’s farm cropping operation: planting, caring for, and harvesting 300 acres of corn, 50 acres of alfalfa, 900 acres of hay, barley, and other crops, plus numerous other tasks such as mowing pastures, spraying pesticides, applying fertilizers and animal waste, and tillage.

Additionally, the tractor, valued at $185,000, is equipped with state-of-the-art precision GPS technology that lets students learn how to develop automated precision agriculture farming systems, a skill that is fast becoming the norm as automated programming becomes the standard in agricultural operations.

Not only will students have access to a hi-tech tool in the tractor, but the tractor’s precise seeding, tilling, and spraying of farms crops will also be a cost saving for the college, since the crops grown at Kentland serve as feed for the animals here on campus.

“The technology that’s on the tractor will reduce the cost per acre of feed,” said Dwight Paulette, the Kentland Farm coordinator.

Hoober Inc. has also included a maintenance agreement with the tractor and will replace the original tractor with a new one once 150 field hours have been met.

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