Lakeland launches bachelor of agriculture technology degree

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January 13, 2021
Lakeland College is offering Canada’s first degree in agriculture technology this fall.
Developed to enable students to keep ahead of the curve in the rapidly evolving world of agricultural technology, Lakeland’s bachelor of agriculture technology program offers real-world experience withbachelor of agriculture degree the latest agricultural equipment, software, hardware and digital devices. 

Starting in September 2021, the two-year, post-credential program consists of full-time studies at the Vermilion campus and experiential learning practicums off campus, all designed 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. 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. 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,” says Michael Crowe, Lakeland’s vice president of academic and research.

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 others. They’ll also learn how to analyze and troubleshoot industry-leading hardware, software and data platforms. Students will operate and adapt the technology and data systems on Lakeland’s Student-Managed Farm – Powered by New Holland. 

“Graduates of the program will bring unique skill sets into the workforce by blending both agriculture production and agricultural technology expertise. Industry feedback indicated there is a shortage of agricultural professionals who can interface between the two disciplines – our degree program will fill that gap,” says Josie Van Lent, dean of the School of Agriculture Technology and Applied Research. “We greatly appreciate the support and help from industry in the development of this program.”

Courses offered in the bachelor of agriculture technology program include emerging technologies in ag, economics of precision agriculture, precision farming global positioning essentials and GIS for agriculture decision making, as well as specific courses related to the integration and use of ag technology in crops and livestock systems, farms and ranches. The curriculum looks at all platforms and all equipment brands. Students will specialize in either crops or livestock technological applications.

Graduates of the program will find employment in a variety of agricultural production fields. These can include data services, development, management, precision technology, production, research and sales with agricultural technology companies, research organizations, equipment dealerships and more. Practicums will be completed at agriculture data companies, technology and equipment manufacturers, agriculture equipment dealerships, crop input service providers, private agronomist service companies, crop and livestock service centres, farms, breeding and genomic companies, and other related agriculture industries.

The bachelor of agriculture technology program is the culmination of several years of consultation, research and development, says Crowe. It was established in response to demand from industry and students. More than 40 agricultural organizations and companies were consulted during an independent industry needs assessment. A student survey indicated strong interest in a degree program and identified curriculum interests in the area of agriculture technology.

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.