Students at UW-River Falls have new farm equipment and expertise to work with after the University and Case IH Agriculture, Value Implement agreed on a long-term partnership on Dec. 2.
The ten-year lease partnership connects UWRF to the Racine-based Case IH and the Value Implement of Osseo, Wis., and Menomonie, Wis., and provides the College of Agriculture, Food and
Environmental Sciences (CAFES) with access to the latest agricultural equipment and precision farming technologies.
The partnership will also bring the newest equipment and expertise for use at the campus lab farms.
Seth Wier is one of the agricultural engineering technology students that is benefiting from this partnership.
“I think the partnership was a really cool deal. It is going to help out the students in the agricultural engineering department learn with the latest and greatest technology. Right now we make the best with what we have. Most of the stuff is already outdated that we are learning with but it’s the same concepts as the new stuff, he said”
Dean Olson, chair of the UWRF agricultural engineering technology department, said that the Case IH equipment will present students with a unique opportunity to see the productivity-enhancing benefits of the equipment firsthand in a real-world setting.
“We will be able to show students how they can raise a crop as efficiently as possible with machinery that minimizes fuel usage, requires fewer passes and utilizes precision agriculture technology to maximize production,” Olson said.
Students in Olson’s programs have been producing biodiesel from soybeans and the waste vegetable oil from food service to power campus vehicles and the farm equipment. Some of the new equipment will be used to investigate the positive effects of using biodiesel to operate Case IH machinery, such as the lack of wear on the engine and quality of emissions.
The machinery will also be used at the 477-acre Mann Valley Farm, which hosts the new Dairy Learning Center. The Center has a friendly composted-bedding housing system in which cows’ manure combines with the woodchips, microorganisms and moisture to begin the decomposition process.
“While the cows are being milked twice a day, we till the bedding layer to further facilitate the composting process,” Bill Connolly, farm director, said. “Then we clean the area by scraping off the top layer of material, putting down fresh bedding and bringing the compost material out to a compost pad where we turn it periodically.”
After his process is complete, it is sold to local homeowners and landscapers for $30/yard to be used for crops.
Biomass harvesting is another area of expertise Case IH brings to UWRF. Connolly believes it may be possible to use the Case IH equipment for harvesting corn cobs to be used for feed or bedding.
“With this new partnership students can learn the up-to-date stuff on things such as GPS, Self Steering, variable rate planting and even field maps created during harvesting. We can even burn the biodiesel in them that we are currently producing in the agricultural engineering department. It is also going to help out both of the lab farms by having new equipment to work with,” Wier said.
The students of UWRF will be responsible for cleaning and maintaining the planters, tractors, tillers and other farming tools. Each year Case IH will replace the equipment with brand new machinery.
Along with the new equipment, students will also be invited to participate in the annual Case IH Student Plant Tour offered at one of its U.S. manufacturing locations.