Virtual Tour Shows Students Smart Farms

Taylor Hillman Industry News Release, Technology



Irrigation systems managed from iPads, animal nutrition tracked by computer chips, and tractors that drive using GPS are only a few examples of the ways farmers and ranchers use technology to produce food in a sustainable manner.

With each generation becoming further removed from agriculture,Discovering FARMLAND, a comprehensive education program created by U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance® (USFRA®) in conjunction with Discovery Education, is providing high school students nationwide with a firsthand glimpse into contemporary agriculture through The Smart Farm: Where Technology and Innovation Meet  live virtual field trip on Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. EST.

Available at no cost, this live virtual event hosted from Deere & Company World Headquarters in Moline, Ill., will transport classrooms across the country to a hog, corn and soybean farm to see today’s modern agricultural practices in action. Students will also hear from fourth generation farmer Ryan Veldhuizen, who was featured in James Moll’s award-winning documentary, FARMLAND, as he discusses technology and innovation on today’s smart farms. Students and educators can register for the 45-minute event and submit questions ahead of time to be answered live

“Technology drives all aspects of American society, and modern farms are leading this revolution in a very important area – food production,” says Mace Thornton, American Farm Bureau Federation Executive Director, Communications, and USFRA Communications Committee Vice Chair. “Through this virtual field trip to the farm, technology also will create an opportunity for interactive transparency between high school students and the men and women who grow food for their families.”

Discovering FARMLAND’s standards-aligned curriculum guides, lesson plans and interactive resources have become increasingly popular with high school teachers and students who are using these timely tools to gain real-world insights about where their food comes from. The program covers key issues in modern agriculture including: how technology has transformed the industry, challenges farmers face such as weather and growing conditions, common stereotypes around farmers and ranchers, and market supply and demand. The curriculum brings to life many of the themes covered in the FARMLAND film, and teaches students about food choices, sustainability, entrepreneurship and antibiotics, among many other topics. The program’s website, launched on November 9, 2015.

“Discovery Education is proud to continue our partnership with U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance to offer classrooms nationwide this unique learning opportunity that supports students’ understanding of STEM applications in the real world,” said Lori McFarling, Senior Vice President, Discovery Education. “The Smart Farm virtual field trip challenges students to think critically about the relevance and importance of science and technology in our everyday lives while also reinforcing key concepts of food production, sustainability and innovation.”

To learn more about the virtual field trip or Discovering FARMLAND, visit