The agriculture and agrochemical industries are always looking for bright young minds interested in making a difference. Although some people think of farming as old-fashioned or a technologically unsophisticated industry, the truth is that farmers have always embraced the latest innovations and technologies. When science, engineering, botany, and a host of other disciplines are applied to agriculture, crop yields improve and food production increases.
One example of this is the growing interest in precision agriculture, which harnesses the power of technology and data to help farmers respond more effectively to the varying conditions that exist within and across their fields of crops. With precision agriculture, farmers have a better understanding of the health and productiveness of their crops—even down to the last square foot—and can tend to them more efficiently. Related to this is the growing demand for aerial drones and unmanned tractors that can assist farmers in their work. The latest advances in science continue to shape the agricultural industry.
That’s good for everyone. The more food farmers can grow, the more food there is for the global population. Because of this critical need, it’s important that those working in the fields of agriculture and agrochemicals strive to make them appealing to students who are eager to use their skills and carry these industries into the future.
Encouraging the Next Generation of the Agriculture Industry
It isn’t always easy to convince someone that a potential career or industry is worth their attention if they haven’t considered it before. Many people form their initial ideas about what types of work they will pursue when they are children. While few actually grow up to become exactly what they dreamed of in childhood, they usually follow a path that they learned about in their youth.
Getting kids interested in a career in the agriculture industry may be particularly difficult for this reason. Most people have never visited a farm and many may not even consider where their food comes from at all—as long as it’s available in their local supermarket, they don’t think about it. For most people, farming is an abstract idea, not an everyday reality.
That’s why it’s a good idea for teachers to consider assigning their young students a project which involves running a “mock” farm. Ideally, this would happen in a science class, though it could also overlap with one on economics. There are likely many smart kids out there who falsely assume that the work of a farmer isn’t one that requires much intelligence. They don’t know that there are many ways they could actually thrive in this field. By giving them a broader perspective on agriculture and agrochemicals, schools can help drive more talented individuals to this type of work.
Designing a Mock Farm Project
The project itself can take on a variety of potential forms, depending on the resources available and the age of the students. If there is space on school property, a teacher could petition administrators to let them create a small crop field. Obviously, this type of project will require not only space, but also fertile land that can facilitate plant growth. Regardless, it would give students an opportunity to explore the field of agriculture in a fun, interactive manner. By actually being tasked with growing crops and taking steps to optimize their crop yield, students will come away with a better understanding of the many factors that must be addressed in modern farming.
Again, a teacher might also consider approaching the project from the angle of economics. This is especially smart if there isn’t any place on school grounds where students can grow crops. The project would involve providing students with a fake budget, which they would use to “buy” tracks of land, as well as all the resources necessary to optimize their farm, such as drones, unmanned tractors, and agrochemical supplies. They would also make decisions about what to grow, to whom they would sell their products, or how many people they would hire. Essentially, the project would require students to make the kinds of decisions they would have to make if they ran a business. The business itself would simply happen to be a farm.
Because the students wouldn’t actually be managing any real farms, the teacher wouldn’t be able to evaluate them on the outcomes of their decisions. Instead, the teacher could require students to create a report—perhaps in the form of an essay or an oral presentation—explaining how and why they made some of their key decisions. This enables teachers to assess whether their students had a thorough grasp of the economic principles they were attempting to teach.
A mock farm project can be modified to fit the needs of any class, so it isn’t important to get too hung up on the details at first. What’s most important is ensuring that the students get the chance to see that there is more than enough room for smart, committed people in the agriculture and agrochemical industries. Ideally, it will inspire them to pursue careers in these fields later on in life.