As Cedar Crest FFA Parliamentarian Bradyn Aurentz tried to follow the red line on the driving simulator, the sales manager noticed his manual steering resulted in spinning in circles.
However, after switching to auto steer mode with GPS assistance, Aurentz easily stayed within the designated field path marked by two blue lines.
Aurentz praised the Raven RS-1 Demo Education Simulator, stating that it provides a realistic experience for students, allowing them to train on the same system used by farmers for accurate equipment steering and application of chemicals, seeds, and fertilizer.
Lebanon County’s Cedar Crest FFA chapter is one of 11 nationwide to receive a Raven RS-1 Demo Education Simulator, donated by CNH Industrial, the parent company of Raven Technologies and New Holland Agriculture.
The simulator, which utilizes Raven technology in New Holland farm equipment, allows farmers to use GPS-assisted auto steer and monitor the application of chemicals, seeds, and fertilizer. Messick’s Equipment in Rapho Township serves as the vendor and hosted Cedar Crest FFA members and Pennsylvania FFA state officers for a preview of the simulator operations and a tour of the facility.
The tabletop simulators feature a display screen connected to GPS and other sensors, providing students with a compact unit for hands-on learning.
The auto steer function in the Raven RS-1 simulator allows farmers to drive straight lines easily, combating operator fatigue and minimizing the overuse of materials in the fields. This helps reduce the economic and environmental impact of farming practices.
The high-end unit, valued at around $23,000, will be provided to Cedar Crest FFA, with efforts underway to find bundle or discount options for other interested FFA chapters nationwide.
Access to learning materials is available at bit.ly/PrecisionToolkits for FFA teachers and students to receive training similar to what field technicians use to operate the simulator.
Making A Difference
In addition to Cedar Crest, other FFA chapters receiving the donated simulators are Botkins FFA (Ohio), Chicago Ag Sciences FFA (Illinois), Graves County FFA (Kentucky), Imbler FFA (Oregon), Rossville FFA Chapter (Indiana), South Hamilton FFA (Iowa), Stockbridge Valley FFA (New York), and Dodgeville FFA, Mosinee FFA, and Whitehall FFA (all in Wisconsin).
Cedar Crest FFA teacher Phil Haussener, along with instructors Darren Grumbine and Claudia Brady, visited Messick’s Equipment with six chapter officers and one member working on a farm.
They previewed the simulator training, which Haussener plans to incorporate into the curriculum in the upcoming fall semester.
Cedar Crest’s application for the simulator donation was made in fall 2022, and having an active farmer like Grumbine, who uses precision tech on his Lebanon farm, might have contributed to their chances of receiving the simulator.
Crystal Bomgardner, the Pennsylvania FFA President since June, graduated in 2022 from the Bob Jones Academy and Northern Lebanon FFA chapter.
As a local resident, she expressed excitement about the donated simulator going to a school in her home area. Bomgardner’s father has a farming background, owning a custom hay baling business and a hobby farm with show heifers, pigs, and chickens.
Cedar Crest FFA teacher, Phil Haussener, mentioned that having students like Bomgardner with farm backgrounds is relatively rare nowadays, with only about 10 to 15% of his students coming from a farming background.
Both Bomgardner and Haussener highlighted that the high-end simulator will provide valuable learning opportunities about the latest agricultural technology, essential not only for modern farming but also applicable to advanced fields like self-driving vehicles and artificial intelligence.
Haussener emphasized that the simulator opens up new possibilities for the students and Bomgardner praised the GPS-assisted auto steer, a significant improvement compared to older manual steering equipment available to many FFA chapters.
They believe this simulator experience will give Cedar Crest FFA students a better understanding of modern AI applications in agriculture.Precision Farming