Precision agriculture expert eager to provide information

After teaching agriculture for 32 years, I wanted to do something different. Writing a regular column on precision farming was something challenging and different and, at first thought, a bit overwhelming.

Not that teaching college students was unchallenging, boring, and underwhelming.

Teaching precision agriculture was an exciting field. Exploring new technology is something I love doing and dealing with young college students kept me young and involved.

But after spending 50 years in education, either attending or teaching school, it was time for a change. So, I retired to do educational consulting.

My name is Terry Brase and for my introductory column I want to provide a little about my background; just enough to keep you interested and hopefully establish my credibility and experience in precision agriculture.

First and foremost I am an Iowa farm boy. Growing up in the hills of northeast Iowa — yes, Iowa does have hills — I milked cows by hand, pitched hay bales and filled my share of manure spreaders.

I couldn’t have imagined doing something else besides farming, but when it became clear that there was no room for me in the farm business, I headed off to college. Any true farm boy in Iowa is, of course, going to Iowa State.

With a BS and a MS in agriculture education, I was ready to embark on a teaching career.

Two years of high school Vo-Ag, as it was called back in 1980, was enough to get me a job teaching at a community college.

I was first hired as a dairy management instructor at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, Iowa. As part of my teaching load, I taught “Introduction to Computers.”

In May 1993, a civil surveying teacher brought me a little, yellow electronic device.

He said, “Here, this is going to be big in agriculture someday. It’s GPS and you might as well start figuring it out.”

That summer I learned all I could about global positioning systems. From that first Trimble GeoExplorer and some contacts I got from Deere, I began teaching introductory concepts of precision farming to my computer class.

By the fall of 1994, I was the principal investigator of a National Science Foundation grant to develop a first-ever two-year degree program in precision agriculture.

Credit has to go to the NSF for my expertise. The funding gave me time to explore precision agriculture technology and build a curriculum.

That first grant was followed by several others, which led to a national centre called AgrowKnowledge. It held national critical issue conferences and workshops and published a precision agriculture curriculum.

Somewhere in all of that, I also did biotechnology workshops, wrote a book on precision agriculture and served as a national precision ag mentor to a couple of colleges in Maryland and Tennessee.

I eventually moved to Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids to start and teach courses for another new, two-year degree program.

Though all of that experience could help with writing a precision farming column, what is most applicable is the teaching and interaction with students.

Teaching classes like “Geospatial Data Collection,” “Ag Spatial Analysis” and “Advanced Precision Ag Hardware,” among others, really challenged me to keep up to date on guidance, control, and analytical tools.

Working with students on everything from telemetry to unmanned aerial systems to sensors has kept it interesting.

I am a technology geek, a gadget guy that loves to explore almost any new technology. I am also very interested in helping other people learn new technology and understand more about precision farming.

As an educational consultant, I hope to be able to do both, explore and instruct. I’ve started building the training, support, and certification curriculum for software called E4 Crop Intelligence; given many presentations and speeches on precision ag; talked with investment companies about UAS and use of digital imagery; and various other activities related to precision farming and education.

A regular column is a form of extension agriculture where I can reach out directly to the farming community. By getting feedback from you, I can provide information you can use on your farms and in your businesses.

In the last 32 years of my career, I have been fortunate enough to make friends in agriculture and have gotten to know a lot of good people.

I hope to continue working with them and I will make mention of many of them as the opportunity presents itself in this column.

The first I would like to mention is Warren Clark, who I met as a high school Future Farmers of America student participating in a three-month, work exchange program on a German dairy farm.

Warren and I reconnected several years ago and he seems to have taken on the job of being my publicist, even though I’ve never paid him anything.

At a conference more than a year ago, he introduced me to Michael Raine of The Western Producer.

He quickly connected me to my precision agriculture book and asked if I would be interested in writing a column on precision farming for North American producers.

It is a big topic. I am hoping to provide useful and interesting information and welcome your emailed questions.

Even though I am no longer teaching, I am still interested in education. I am retired, not tired.

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