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07.04.2021 - Peer Leithold (Send email to Peer Leithold)

Certificate course enters 2nd round

In July 2020, the first certificate course about digital crop production in annual cycle started. The course is developed within the framework of an EIP-AGRI project, project sponsor is Agronym e. V., and significantly co-designed by Agricon GmbH, which as a founding member of the association. Now the second course is in the starting blocks - time for a review and outlook.

Interested parties can now register online on the association's website. The participation costs are covered by the Free State of Saxony.

Farmers have to use operating resources more and more carefully and efficiently in order to secure their competitiveness in the long term. Information-guided, rule-based and automated crop production is therefore becoming increasingly important in the industry.

In Saxony, agricultural educational institutions are only sporadically dedicated to the topic of precision farming. A holistic offer for young farm managers and agronomists does not exist so far. This changed with the certificate course "Digital crop production in the annual cycle", which was launched for the first time in July 2020. The in-service special training was developed by Agronym, an association that qualifies agricultural specialists in innovative fields.

In order to ensure the highest possible learning quality and guarantee personal support, the number of participants is limited to 12. The costs of around EUR 10,000 per person will be borne by a grant from the Free State of Saxony in the 2021/22 season.

The participants of the first course are farm managers, managing directors and persons responsible for crop production from farms in Saxony with 150 ha to 5200 ha of agricultural land. They go through six modules, each of which teaches agronomic and plant cultivation principles, presents and evaluates different methods for recording the necessary agronomic information, prepares and plans applications digitally and then implements them in practice on different farms. The main topics are:

  • Module 1: Basics
  • Module 2: Basic fertilization
  • Module 3: Sowing
  • Module 4: N-fertilization
  • Module 5: Plant protection
  • Module 6: Technological project

The detailed module descriptions can be found here.

The methodological concept relies on a mix of speakers from field-tested precision farming experts such as Agricon and proven specialists from the industry for in-depth coverage of individual key topics. For example, Prof. Dr. Thomas Herlitzius from the Technical University of Dresden spoke about the obstacles of digitization, Ludwig von Blomberg from KWS Saat on how to optimize corn sowing with variable seeding rates and Dr. Marcel Thieron from amagrar on the expert system for integrated crop protection.

In addition, the course also communicates current results from EIP-Agri projects, e.g. Prof. Eckart Kramer from the Eberswalde University of Applied Sciences spoke on the topic of precise liming in Brandenburg. In April 2021, this series will be continued with a hybrid EIP-Agri day. The pilot courses will be evaluated with external support, so the optimization potential of the teaching concept will be directly reflected and implemented by participants and speakers.

Starting in summer 2021, the course will enter its second pilot round, which is funded by the Free State of Saxony. The offer is aimed at already active or future junior farm managers from Saxon farms. Basic knowledge of agriculture and a high level of interest in the topics of digital crop production are key selection criteria for participation in the course. Applications are now possible online with a CV and letter of motivation on the Agronym e.V. website.

Comments on the course

"This is a completely new educational format for agricultural practitioners," explains Prof. Dr. Thomas Herlitzius of the Technical University of Dresden. He is chairman of the board of Agronym e.V. and co-initiated the specialized training. "Our approach is currently unprecedented in Germany: over the course of a complete season, we impart crop production knowledge and record all the data relevant to the course in parallel on trial plots. We evaluate this digital information together with the participants, which makes agronomic correlations apparent. In this way, the findings can be applied directly in practice," continues Herlitzius.

Agronym was able to win Agricon for the methodical-didactic design of the special training. The company from Jahna has been developing digital solutions for agricultural practice for almost 25 years. "It's great that we were able to help set up this innovative certificate course," says Managing Director Peer Leithold. He adds, "The discussions with the participants in the course also fertilize our work and underline that precision farming can only develop its full potential when digital processes and their rules are understood by the users in the complex and not just applied piecemeal on the farms."

Voices of the participants

Vroni Hentschel, L & K GmbH Lommatzsch: "We already work to a large extent with digital processes. The deep insight into agronomic contexts and the exchange with professional colleagues are a big plus for me on this course."

Robert Exner, Agrargenossenschaft Lößnitz-Stollberg eG: "Our agricultural cooperative wants to focus more on digital agriculture. It's great that I'm getting such a comprehensive overview of today's possibilities, which makes it easier for us to implement in the company."

Christoph Beyer, Agraset-Agrargenossenschaft eG Naundorf near Rochlitz: "As a large agricultural company, we are always open to innovations. By using precision agriculture, ecological and economic aspects can be combined well."

About Agronym e.V.

The purpose of the association is to promote science and research for a sustainable bioeconomy in Central Germany. In particular, with the aim of initiating research involving small and medium-sized enterprises, qualifying young scientists as well as specialists in innovative fields, and organizing exchange on the results of scientific research. Agronym e.V. sees itself as a network and living information, communication and cooperation platform of technical innovations for agriculture with supra-regional impact.

About the project funding

The certificate course "Digital crop production in  annual cycle" is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). Special emphasis is therefore placed on the transfer of the latest findings from completed and ongoing EIP-AGRI projects. In Saxony, the State Ministry for Energy, Climate Protection, Environment and Agriculture, Funding Strategy Unit, EAFRD Managing Authority is responsible for the implementation of EAFRD funding.

Contact:

Dr. Claudia Scholta

Network Manager Agronym e.V.

Mobile: +49 174 31 20 524

E-Mail: scholta@agronym.de

Internet: https://agronym.de

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