As new tools and technology rapidly enter the agriculture sector, the challenge will be training farmers and farm workers to make the most of them.
METOS, a division of Pessl Instruments, is launching a new online training portal to tackle this challenge, that will train and certify operators of the company’s technology.
Guy Ash, global training manager of Pessl, based in Winnipeg, says the goal is to help farmers and agronomists better understand the Pessl instruments and technology they’re using, and give them the ability to prove those qualifications to others through certification.
“Our eLearning portal through METOS Canada is already being used and adapted into the Canadian market with others soon to join,” Ash told the Co-operator during a recent conversation.
It’s part of a trend within the sector that sees companies providing more product-specific training, rather than colleges, that provide more general education. In part it’s a reflection of the complexity and fast-changing nature of new agriculture technology.
“There are other companies doing this as well,” Ash said. “E-learning is becoming critical for farmers and customers to be able to fully understand their tools and monitor things remotely.”
Ash said the modules will focus on software, individual instruments and accurately combining data from the different instruments and software products. By better understanding the tools, farmers and agronomists can aim for better management and higher returns through better-informed decisions.
There are six modules available for enrolment now through MetosCanada.ca, with more in development.
Each module includes videos, supporting documents and a test that requires a passing grade of above 80 per cent to be certified in that module.
The six available modules are: METOS Stations & Sensors, FieldClimate Software, Station Preparation and Installation, iMETOS IMT Weather Station, Maintenance Repair & Storage and finally a course on its ECO D3 Station, a solar and battery-powered data logger.
While the new website and certification program are designed to help farmers and agronomists get a better understanding of the available tech, Ash was sure to remind people that online research can’t replace the “boots on the ground” level of field work.
“In-field experience is fundamental”, he said.
“The technology and eLearning allows you to see issues as they’re developing and unfolding and direct your resources in a certain direction, but it’s boots on the ground that actually deals with the problem. You’ll never separate the two (research and field work), this just allows a better knowledge of what’s going on and helps with better scouting.”