Hays, Kan.-based Fort Hays State University (FHSU) has been awarded a grant of more than $700,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop curricula focused on the use of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) in precision agriculture, according to Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan.
The program under development by FHSU, in partnership with Hutchinson Community College (HCC) and Emporia State University (ESU), aims to enhance and improve the technical and analytical skill sets of future farm managers, technicians and crop advisors.
As chairman of the Senate appropriations subcommittee on agriculture, Moran says he supported a $1 million increase in federal funding for the USDA Capacity Building Grants for Non-Land Grant College of Agriculture Program, which is furnishing the $701,072 FHSU grant.
“This grant awarded to Fort Hays State University will go toward an effort to link the enormous potential of incorporating UAS into precision agriculture with real-world application of the technology,” comments Moran. “Strong support of agricultural research makes certain our producers are on the forefront of technological advancements and ahead of our global competitors in agriculture.”
The primary beneficiaries of the grant will be students pursuing post-secondary agricultural degrees at FHSU and HCC, as well as degrees in natural resource management at ESU and FHSU. Open houses, field days and workshops will be held at the institutions’ farms to demonstrate and provide experience with the technology.
“This is an investment in the future – not only for our students, but for our region and our state,” adds Mirta M. Martin, president of FHSU.