It’s 21st Century farming. Motlow launches a Digital Agronomy certification program

Some call it Smart Farming and it sits squarely at the intersection of of agriculture and entrepreneurship. Digital Agronomy utilizes the best of 21st century technology to make farming life easier. Motlow State will begin offering a degree pathway in Digital Agronomy this fall. (File Photo)

LOCAL EDUCATION NEWS — Using drones, bin sensors, GPS mapping, and other 21st century technology to make farming life easier. That’ the gist of a Digital Agronomy, and Motlow State announced last Thursday that beginning this Fall, Motlow State Community College will offer a concentration in Digital Agronomy as part of its current Associate of Applied Science Degree in Entrepreneurship. It’s the first degree certification of its kind in Tennessee and one that’s full of synergy for a community college located in the heart of Middle Tennessee farm land.

“Digital agronomy uses technology, such as drones, sensors and other monitors, and the data they provide to make informed decisions and recommendations to farmers,” added Stacy Dowd, an assistant professor and the Curriculum Chair for Natural Science at Motlow. “Students will study conventional and regenerative agricultural practices, learn GIS mapping precision agriculture, and the latest in crop management and irrigation practices.” 

The Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) in Covington began a certification program in digital agronomy in 2019. In collaboration with TCAT, Motlow will allow TCAT students to transfer into a degree program. 

“This new degree pathway is part of Motlow’s commitment to developing a new pipeline of agricultural professionals equipped to support the technology needs of today’s farmers,” said Dr. Melody Edmonds, Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs at Motlow.

Motlow will recognize a student’s level of knowledge, either through industry-recognized certifications, prior learning assessments, or challenge exams. 

“This is an exciting opportunity that will fuel the entrepreneurial spirit and technical skill sets needed to meet our region’s growing demands for skilled workers in middle Tennessee’s growing agriculture industry,” Edmonds said. “And credit for prior learning means students can enter Motlow’s degree concentration in digital agronomy with fewer classes to complete.”

Motlow is recruiting new faculty leadership for this new pathway. Current openings can be found at Motlow’s website for employment opportunities. Position inquiries should be directed to: [email protected]

“We have seen a lot of enthusiasm from students who are excited about the combination of entrepreneurial coursework and agriculture,” Edmonds said. “We’ve also received a resounding affirmation from leaders in the Middle Tennessee Nursery Association who have asked for us to collaborate with them to explore adding agricultural apprenticeship opportunities.”

To further expand the program, Motlow is also working with the Warren County School System to develop agriculture and drone pilot certification to help support remote crop management technology. The College is also working with Tennessee State University in Fayetteville to take students from certificates to apprenticeships and associate degrees to bachelor degrees and beyond.

“The A.A.S. in Entrepreneurship will provide students with the skills needed to start and successfully run their own business,” said Dowd.

Edmonds added, “Most of all, we want to prepare our students to be ag entrepreneurs of the future.” •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}