Agricultural research published in John Deere magazine

by Samantha Dean
Research related to farm field data collected by undergraduate agricultural students at Fort Hays State University has been published in John Deere's The Furrow magazine.

Over the course of five semesters, 130 students in Technology in Agriculture classes taught by Dr. Craig Smith, assistant professor of agricultural business, worked on projects evaluating the economics of investing in automatic row and swath control on their own farms in Kansas, Colorado, and Nebraska. This technology allows farmers to be more efficient and avoid double planting and spraying.

Throughout their projects, students were able to familiarize themselves with geographic information systems software, mapping farmland and determining the economics of investing in precision agricultural technologies. Smith combined this data and performed a regional analysis that looked at which regions and cropping systems offer quicker payback on these technologies.

"Not only are we doing some real-world applied research, but we are including students in this process -- helping them apply the knowledge and skills they have learned," said Smith.

Smith said he is excited for the research to be featured in a magazine read by so many farmers and members of the agriculture community. The Furrow has been around for 120 years and is read worldwide by the agricultural industry with a U.S. and Canadian circulation of 570,000 and about two million globally.

"It is quite an honor to be published in this magazine," said Smith. "My grandpa, who passed away last year, used to tell me how he couldn't wait to get this magazine when he was a kid on the farm in the 1930s."

The goal of the research was to analyze how much money farmers could save by using auto-section and row control technology. Smith's students took their assignments out of the classroom and back to their families' farms to test these theories.

"At the end of the day machinery and technology purchase decisions come down to dollars and cents," said Smith. "This project gives the students something to take back with them to the farm or whatever job they take after college."

The full article can be found in the summer 2015 issue. It is available online at

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