Precision Agriculture, 3, 319–325, 2002
© 2002 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Manufactured in The Netherlands.
Using Conferences and Workshops
for Technology Training
HAROLD F. REETZ, JR. email@example.com
Midwest Director, Potash & Phosphate Institute, Monticello, IL 61856
Abstract. Conference and workshop formats provide excellent opportunities in continuing education for
farmers and their advisers to stay abreast of new technology and practices for maintaining high-yield, high-proﬁt
management systems. Where possible hands-on opportunities should be included and proceedings published
to help support the learning process. Communication and cooperation between industry and universities have
been enhanced through these meetings. Since adoption of new technologies is often a team effort involving
the farmers, input suppliers and other stakeholders, training programs should be designed to foster cooperation
among them. The complexity ofsome ofthe new technologies makes the hands-on workshop and demonstration
formats especially valuable.
Keywords: precision agriculture, technology training, technology transfer
Training in crop and soil management has undergone considerable change since Squanto
taught the Pilgrims how to grow corn. The concept oftraining by demonstration
remains one ofthe best ways to transfer technology. The Cooperative Extension Service
made great strides in promoting sound management practices using the learn-by-doing
approach. Extension and industry trainers have long used demonstrations as an effective
approach to teach farmers about the use of new technology. M. O. Pence, retired Purdue
University Extension Specialist, shared his experience ofusing Extension demonstration
trains in the early 1900’s to teach the use ofsoil testing to determine liming and fertilizer
needs. This mobile workshop system was very effective in getting farmers to adopt
better management practices.
Field days, demonstrations, and hands-on experience show people what to do and the
proper techniques to use in a variety ofsituations. In today’s rapid turnover ofinformation
and technology, it is difﬁcult for farmers and their advisers to keep pace with the learning
Instead ofrailroad teaching cars, today’s hands-on training has evolved into computer
workshops. The concept is still much the same—teaching by experience. When partic-
ipants in a training session have an opportunity to work through a process and use the
tools appropriate for the job, they leave with a better understanding of the concepts, and
a better chance ofbeing able to put them into practice.