Connecting the World: IVCC ag plays its part

Miriam Hoffman, IV Leader Associate Editor

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A wide variety of students, faculty, stakeholders, and community members
attended the 2nd Annual IVCC Agriculture Department Field Day at the college
farm on Sep. 18.

Agriculture instructors and co-program directors Kathryn Lillie and Willard Mott each offered a welcome and thanked all those who play a part in the success of the campus farm, from the seed dealers and equipment operators to the faculty at the college.

The morning’s agenda included presentations from several key individuals. Russ Higgins, an agronomist from the University of Illinois Extension, spoke on his involvement with the planning and research aspect of the farm; Higgins focused on the particularly challenging weather conditions of the 2019 planting season.

Trevor Stanhope, a representative from Case IH, spoke about the partnership between the IVCC Agriculture program and local Case IH dealer, Stoller International.

The keynote speaker was Kyle Dooley, a leader in global strategy and data analytics from the company CNH, which owns the brand Case IH. Dooley’s focus was on agricultural data innovation and how it is changing the landscape of agriculture in all aspects along the supply chain.

While farmers have been using data for as long as we know, only recently has data collection become so technologically advanced; Dooley described this shift in collection and analysis and how it is changing agriculture for farmers. The future of data is creating a “big-picture” outlook, compiling different pieces of data and analyzing them together, Dooley believes.

He explained that this type of data innovation is allowing farmers to “examine their business and optimize [inputs] to do things better.” Dooley discussed how increased
consumer interest is driving the need for more advanced data collection, as well as how new data technology is able to answer consumers’ growing number of questions about the origin and production methods for food products.

“[There is a] greater awareness in the consumer space about what’s going on in agriculture,” he remarked.

IVCC’s agriculture program is playing an exciting part in providing just the kind of education that Dooley believes is vital for the future of data and agriculture. He cited several ways that post-secondary agriculture programs can produce a qualified, innovation-driven workforce. Teaching students software abilities, hands-on skills, and math and science applications were several of those strategies; the ag program at IVCC is filling those needs.

“The college has a vital need for a vibrant ag program… to serve the needs of the county,” Dooley declared.

The need for a young and innovative agriculture workforce is a global need
being filled by local communities; Dooley shared that LaSalle County, one of the main areas served by IVCC, is largely fueled by an agricultural economy and is ranked 5th in farm receipts in the state.

After sharing many details and applications regarding data innovation in agriculture, Dooley reminded his audience of the big picture with a simple quote.

“Connecting the world–that’s really what all this is about,” he concluded.

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