Harvest the Sun, Build the Soil

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Bane, Chandler
Hora, Mitchell
Lorack, Gabe
Lane, Nick
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Koziel, Jacek
Professor Emeritus
Vanstrom, Joseph
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Since 1905, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, now the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. The department’s original mission was to mechanize agriculture. That mission has evolved to encompass a global view of the entire food production system–the wise management of natural resources in the production, processing, storage, handling, and use of food fiber and other biological products.

In 1905 Agricultural Engineering was recognized as a subdivision of the Department of Agronomy, and in 1907 it was recognized as a unique department. It was renamed the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 1990. The department merged with the Department of Industrial Education and Technology in 2004.

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  • Department of Agricultural Engineering (1907–1990)

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Can altered methods within modern day production agriculture be used to better utilize sunlight, increase yields, and improve farm economics while improving environmental sustainability? Cedar Valley Innovation is a one-person entity, but utilizes information from a vast network of individuals within the industry. Utilizing information from stakeholders and customers, Mr. Recker has gained a lot of additional knowledge aimed at advancing agriculture practices. Mr. Recker has developed connections with farmers/growers across the nation. Our team has analyzed yield from Mr. Recker’s small plot scale. Our client also recommended that we analyze yield and overall economics of a new farming practice on a large scale. At this point, we are still not convinced that farmers will be able to change the overall structure of traditional farming formats. In each project that Mr. Recker takes on his goal is to leave his personal legacy on modern agriculture. According to our calculations, we found that the proposed practices will cause a loss of overall field yield and yearly income. However, with more research, Mr. Recker can continue developing the “Sunlight Harvest Strips” field formation. Environmental issues dealing with water quality and sustainability are hot topics. “Sunlight Harvest Strips” show promise in their ability to reduce nutrient loss to the water system. By continuing a partnership with Dr. Kaleita, of the ABE Department, Mr. Recker can move forward with the environmental effects of new farming methods.

Chandler Bane, Mitchell Hora, Gabe Lorack, Nick Lane, Joseph R. Vanstrom and Jacek A. Koziel. Harvest the Sun, Build the Soil. Final Report. TSM 416 Technology Capstone Project, April 28, 2017.