Modesto Junior College was recently awarded a three-year grant for $833,174 from the National Science Foundation to educate and train agriculture irrigation technicians. The project will increase the number of irrigation technicians and designers prepared to improve agriculture water management, increase irrigation delivery system efficiency, and enhance on-farm water conservation.
Central Valley soil, some of the richest in the world, has been severely impacted by multiple years of drought, and technology has developed more quickly than the irrigation industry can keep up with, creating a skills gap. The critical need for irrigation efficiency and water conservation led to the development of this program to provide irrigation technicians with state-of-the-art skills.
MJC’s new associate degree will combine a strong foundation in science (plant science, soil science, hydrology, and meteorology) with cutting edge technology that enables workers to accurately put water when and where it is needed. Technology that enables remote monitoring such as drones, precise irrigation designs and projections, and increased water conservation will be embedded in the new program. Graduates of this program will be skilled technicians with scientific backgrounds who will help fill a growing need in the agriculture industry over the next decade.
Curriculum will be developed that advances the efficient design and use of irrigation systems. Students will learn to use state-of-the art technology, including AutoCAD, advanced Excel, drones, wireless sensor networks, Geographic Information System mapping (GIS), and soil measurement probes to design, manage and evaluate agriculture irrigation systems.
The grant includes an Agriculture Irrigation Summer Institute that will introduce students to the technology and career opportunities available in this important industry.For more information contact MJC program leads, Steve Amador, professor of agricultural mechanics, (209) 575-6215 or Don Borges, director of agricultural education and technical preparation, (209) 575-6449.