It's not often that a new $320,000 teaching tool lands in a classroom.
But that's what happened on a bright, warm January morning when Wellington Implement, Inc., delivered a new Case IH Magnum 340 tractor with auto guidance to Ohio State University's Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering.
The tractor will be used for research and teaching, primarily with students in the Agricultural Systems Management program (http://fabe.osu.edu/fabe/asm.html). It's on loan for a year from Wellington, thanks in part to a special program through Case IH. In addition, the company, based in Wellington, plans to loan a second tractor to Ohio State, with delivery anticipated in April.
"The loan of this tractor upgrades our teaching capabilities substantially," says Scott Shearer, department chair. "Previously, our teaching aids were nearly 25 years old and void of modern technology."
Instructors typically arranged for students to travel the nearly 30 miles to the Molly Caren Agricultural Center, home to Ohio State's Farm Science Review, near London, Ohio, to get some hands-on experience on tractors with auto guidance. Having such a tractor on the Columbus campus will greatly expand the teaching and research opportunities available to students, Shearer said, allowing students access to modern diesel engine technology as well as modern tractor electronics and hydraulics.
Dewey Mann, lecturer, research assistant and adviser to the Agricultural Systems Management Club, is excited about the opportunities the tractor provides.
"From the lab we will be able to analyze electrical, hydraulic, and engine components, such as Tier 4 emissions technology," Mann says. "Using a laptop and some simple cabling, we will be able to record CAN (Controller Area Network) data from the tractor. Also from the lab setting, with our current air exhaust system and a few equipment upgrades, we'll be able to test engine performance."
In addition, during the Precision Agriculture course Mann teaches in the fall, students will be able to use the tractors to practice collecting GPS and machine performance data.
Mann said he hopes having such modern technology will help the Agricultural Systems Management program grow even more than it has in the recent past.
"When I started a year ago, we had about 45 or 50 students. Now, we're up to about 80. We'd like to see that number get to about 200."
The donation was arranged by Tom Stannard, sales manager and co-owner of Wellington Implement and a 2000 alumnus of the department
"It was a no-brainer," Stannard says. "Case IH has a special educational program that offers additional discounts and helps with the depreciation costs when we get the tractor back. When I heard about the program and the interest of the department, it was an immediate 'yes' as far as I was concerned. We believe in supporting the program on technology and agriculture. It helps us down the road."
On delivery day, students were enthusiastically lined up in the parking lot to take the new tractor for a test drive. Mann asked students what they thought about the new big red machine, and Eric Renner, a fourth-year student from Delphos, said it best: "Now, we will not only learn about the newest technology in classes, but we will be able to actually use it."