HAYS – Fort Hay State University has been awarded a grant of more than $700,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop curricula focused on the use of small unmanned aerial systems in precision agriculture, the university announced in February.
The program, under development by FHSU, is expected to enhance and improve the technical and analytical skill sets of future farm managers, technicians and crop advisors. The grant is part of a $4 million award to Non-Land Grant Colleges and Universities, according to a press release.
As chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Manhattan, supported a $1 million increase in federal funding for the USDA Capacity Building Grants for Non-Land Grant Colleges of Agriculture Program, which is furnishing the $701,072 grant to FHSU. This is the second largest grant given out by the program this year and one of the larger federal grants received by FHSU. “We are very grateful to Sen. Jerry Moran for his vote of confidence in stewarding the process that ultimately resulted in awarding this grant to Fort Hays State University,” said FHSU President Mirta M. Martin.
The new curricula will teach the gathering of data by UAS and the incorporation of the data into agriculture. The primary beneficiaries of this grant at FHSU will be students pursuing post-secondary agricultural degrees, as well as those seeking degrees in natural resource management.
Farmers and ranchers on the Great Plains and Flint Hills will also benefit through open houses, field days and workshops held at regional farms and natural areas that will demonstrate and provide experience with new aerial technology in support of the agricultural economy.
Demand is high and the job outlook is very strong for individuals skilled in the understanding and use of precision agricultural technologies, the university reported. In Kansas alone, the economic impact of UAS technologies is estimated at $2.9 billion over the next decade.
The grant will help make certain that a skilled workforce is available to meet this potential.