Two vans park alongside a tall metallic shed. A group of international businesspeople emerges —men and women from 11 different countries—donning nametags and clutching notebooks. The walls of the shed are stacked high with pallets of fertilizer and farming equipment. A cluster assembles around a man sporting well-worn denim, his head wrapped in a torn blue bandana. Five thousand acres of cultivated farmland stretch out into the distance.
This was the scene on the second day of #AgTech2015, IFDC’s international training and study tour. The subject was precision agriculture; the location, Isbell Farms in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. After a long day of presentations on nutrient management, irrigation methods and new technologies, the participants were ready to get into the field and see these management practices in action.
Neal Isbell and his son Shane spoke about the benefits of farm innovations and precision agriculture. The participants shared stories about their own management practices. They asked each other questions and discussed ways to get the next generation more involved in agriculture. It was a true cultural exchange, something we consistently strive for at IFDC.
We host specialized training events several times a year around the world. Participants hear from experts, test new technologies and share their own knowledge with peers. IFDC’s training events attract people from all segments of the agricultural industry, from farmers to input dealers to policymakers.
Pieter Bekker, an agro-input and equipment dealer from South Africa, said, “I just wanted to come out here and observe Mr. Isbell’s farming operation and benchmark this against the operations of some of the farmers I do business with. I know Mr. Isbell’s practices are top-notch, so I wanted to see if there are a few things we can learn from him.”
As we wrote in Part 2 of this blog series, training does more than benefit the individual farmer. When trainees share knowledge, as Bekker plans to, the information impacts entire communities.
Craig Swan, who manages a farm in Australia, appreciates the tour as more than an educational opportunity: “I wanted to observe some of the large-scale operations, maybe brush up on some new practices and see a little bit of the U.S. as well.”
Swan and the other participants will have every opportunity to do so as the tour travels through Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois and Washington, D.C. Along the way, participants will hear from other large-scale farm owners and learn about cutting-edge technologies and innovations in the U.S. agricultural industry. These conversations and experiences will spread throughout their communities once the participants return home. In this way, IFDC Training cultivates knowledge into skills that go beyond the individual farmer.
Have you participated in an IFDC training event? If so, share your story with us on Twitter and Facebook, and we may include a quote from you in the upcoming blogs. Stay tuned!