A new partnership between two Mississippi schools will change the role of aviation in local farming practices.
Precision Agriculture, 2 Plus 2, is a joint effort between Hinds Community College and Mississippi State University to bring “real data in real time for real results” to Mississippi farmers, officials announced Thursday in a hangar at Joe Bell Williams Airport in Raymond.
The program, to be available in the fall, will offer classes in commercial aviation, aviation maintenance and aviation technology.
Clyde Muse, president of Hinds Community College, said the venture would develop a highly skilled workforce in Unmanned Aircraft Systems. “Our students will have an opportunity now to be assured that all of the credits they take with us will be transferred to MSU.”
Students can graduate with one of two two-year degrees, Muse said.
An associate of applied science degree with a concentration in one of several aviation programs allows graduates to go directly into the workforce, Muse said. Students who graduate with an associate of arts degree can transfer to MSU with 60 hours toward a bachelor’s degree in agriculture engineering technology with a concentration in precision agriculture, according to a joint press release.
Mark Keenum, president of MSU, said the new program is meeting a need on a global scale.
Citing the world’s projected 9.5 billion population by 2050, Keenum said the “global dinner table” is expanding. Noting the “diminishing quantities of water” and the worldwide problem of human malnutrition, Keenum said today’s food production would have to double in order to provide for the world’s 2050 projected population. Programs like 2 Plus 2 can help ease that burden, he said.
“We’re preparing our students to be prepared to address these cultural issues,” Keenum said. “These high-tech jobs … for agriculture are integral in helping us in the future.”
Gov. Phil Bryant told the crowd “precision aviation is the future, and we do aviation very well in Mississippi.”
Sharing a childhood memory, the governor recalled standing in a cotton field, staring at a crop duster overhead. Aviation has come a long way since then, he said.
“How exciting it was to see,” he said. “What we’re talking about here is the future.”
With 10.9 million acres of farmland in Mississippi, Bryant said precision aviation would help produce “more yield per crop.”
Chad Starks, associate vice president for workforce training and campus assistant dean of career and technology programs for HCC, said precision aviation is “doing the right thing at the right time at the right place” by using up-to-the-minute data.
Precision aviation “minimizes the footprint” and “makes farming more economical,” Starks said.