Farm simulation platforms increase undergraduate skills and confidence in decision-support technologies

Andrea Basche, Fernanda Souza Krupek, Nilovna Chatterjee, Carol Speth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

As agriculture increasingly moves into a digital realm, it is important for future professionals to gain experience with predictive and computer-based technologies. Farm simulation platforms can be efficient tools for crop management and natural resources courses, yet limited research has demonstrated their efficacy in undergraduate education. We implemented a module utilizing a farm simulation platform in a high enrollment undergraduate crop management course. The module included asynchronous video content and four synchronous course periods with activities related to crop planting dates, water cycling with different crop rotations, fertilizer impacts on yield and environment, as well as a competition activity to optimize profit with different management considerations. In our assessments, we found that students increased knowledge and confidence in how to use the software, awareness of related simulation platforms, how to make data-driven crop management decisions as well as how to develop and test hypotheses. Students reported learning a range of skills, including how to utilize the software to understanding the impact of crop management on yield, and specifically noted that these skills would be beneficial for future careers in farming, consulting, business, or policy. Additionally, students reported challenges such as difficulties with data interpretation and software use. For successful implementation of similar modules, we recommend providing students with a step-by-step activity manual, ensuring adequate teaching team support, and developing a supportive classroom environment. Our results demonstrate that farm simulation platforms can be successfully implemented into undergraduate courses to support students in navigating technologies beneficial for future careers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere20058
JournalNatural Sciences Education
Volume50
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Plant Science
  • Ecology
  • Insect Science
  • Soil Science
  • Education

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