It’s training Jim… but not as we know it.

Farming – an environment where everything, including technology, is constantly growing…

Have you seen the CommandCenter of a John Deere 9620RX? It’s like the Starship Enterprise.

Another area that has started to feel the impact of emerging technology is training and, for a charity like the Farm Safety Foundation, that engages, inspires and educates the next generation of farmers, it has been vital for us to champion alternative learning methods to engage young farmers and equip them for their chosen career.

Education is the key to driving good behaviours in the industry and traditional lecture-style farm safety training just doesn’t resonate or create a lasting impact for a generation raised on interactive technologies. Bringing new technology like virtual reality and simulators into learning can help encourage active engagement and contribute to delivering the farm safety message.

In January 2020, we introduced a virtual reality-based session to our education programme to address these concerns and challenge the assumption that Health and Safety training is boring. 

The ability to experience any training in 360 is invaluable and memorable and to deliver training that may actually save lives and limbs in the future makes it even more important. Imagine future farmers viewing a working farm and its real risks from all angles without leaving the classroom… This is what we have developed and are delivering to students in 30 land-based colleges and universities throughout the UK.

A similar approach to innovative technology-based learning has been adopted by the team at CAFRE in Northern Ireland with the introduction of two new simulators in February to help agricultural students learn about the safety aspects of tractor driving before they even set foot in a cab. The technology, housed at their Greenmount campus in Antrim, aims to improve safety both on and off the road, as well as enhance driving skills and build confidence in a real, working environment.

The simulators include three types of software so students can experience driving a telehandler, tractor or combine. They can receive reports on their driving techniques and when the two simulators are used in tandem, can practice many of the machinery operations on farms.

We are all committed to improving this dismal safety record in the industry but sharing pledges online and talking about it is not enough anymore.

We need action, we need education and we need to engage farmers at their level. Farmers do not want to be preached to. They are busy professionals so we need to really think about how we can engage them so the time and attention they give us will create impact, drive a change and save lives.

stephanie_berkeley_zl4u2oa9It’s training Jim… but not as we know it.