Engaging IT students into agriculture, forestry. Best practices, examples, solutions?

Dear @Biobord network!

It would be very much appreciated if you can share examples, best practices and solutions on how to engage IT students into the agriculture and forestry within studies or field work, no matter the scale or complexity of the case! :blush: It will be used to screen the opportunities and shape the potential test-programme in the Vidzeme University of Applied sciences. Within this programme they aim to strengthen the cross-sectoral collaboration and to engage IT students into creating solutions for digitalization of farms.

At this point we foresee that students will be, first, briefed and prepared in the university – background about bioeconomy, its potential, resources, solutions, best practices, and then they will have a field work in real-farms, where they need to find solutions for digitalization.

To give a true inspiration to students, we aim to collect and learn about your experiences and solutions how you are bringing students (potentially from technical programmes) into the bioeconomy.

We have learned in the past that the Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences (@Halgrim) did engage students into plant monitoring to identify species in the fields around the area. Maybe you can tell a bit more about that? Was that a technical solution that they developed, or they did the monitoring “in the field”?

Also, JAMK University should have good examples about the development of IT solutions. @riikkakumpulainen and colleagues, could you share some examples?

Any other examples, best practice and solutions is very much welcome and appreciated. :blush:

I am currently opening this discussion on their behalf, as we are close partners in promoting this collaboration of students and farmers in close future. If you want to learn more about ViA, check their web page: Vidzemes Augstskola - Ground to Grow!

With regards,
Santa Vītola
Vidzeme Planning Region

@ConnectedByBiobord | @RDI2CluB

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Dear @santa, excellent topic!

In JAMK we are practicing smart farming, which connects IT and agriculture (also linked to forestry). @juho.pirttiniemi would you have examples to provide our network partner from Vidzeme ? :slight_smile:

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JAMK has a project where a student designed a measurement tool for peat harvesting machines. Blog post in Finnish, but at least you can look at the pictures. I noticed that unfortunately they have not published anything in English about it.

We got this idea from the peat industry as part of a project. We identified tasks that a student could do as a study project related to this and a few other cases in the project. Then we recruited the student to design and build the measurement tool, I think.

Here we had a clear task for the student as the subject for their study project or bachelor’s thesis.


Hi! We are pretty much at the starting phase of involving our smart agriculture and smart bioeconomy projects and activities to education. There are some examples what we currently do:

  • Basic tasks to monitor fields and plants: students accomplish drone flying test (mandatory in Finland) as part of basic course and after that monitor field with drone and camera to build a field map (e.g. NDVI, leaf area index). Field map helps to plan farming activities on field

  • Collecting in situ- data from soil, water systems, cowshed and harvested yield. Data is automatically collected by sensors or devices but students have to explain how it works. They can build their course assigments or final thesis to this data. Right now I have a good dataset (4 months) about moisture, temperature and CO2 (methane also partly) in cowshed and comparison to weather data will be an interesting task to some student

In future, it would be nice to connect IT and engineer students to bioeconomy students with real life challenges (given by real companies) related to agriculture and forestry. These king of multi-actor challenges can be really fruitful to students and companies.

One example of that kind of activity is a participation to annual European field robot competition done by University of Helsinki agronomy students and Aalto university engineer students. Together they build a new field robot almost every year as part of a project course and compete against other countries in a real competition. FRE2015 - GroundBreaker - Task 4 Freestyle - YouTube


Thank you, @juho.pirttiniemi and @tuomosipola for these great examples! Sounds that you already have well developed pathways for bringing technology into farming! Do students also develop mobile applications that could be used for individual farmers or cooperatives?

It’s possible if we had an outside assignment. There are students with mobile development skill set, so if they got an assignment in the agricultural domain, it would most probably happen.

Of course, depends on if the students are interested in the topic. On the other hand, if they work in a project, they will do it as part of it.

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