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Development and Assessment of a Prototype as an Innovative Method for Teaching Agricultural Machinery

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org

Citation:  Transactions of the ASABE. 54(6): 2353-2360. (doi: 10.13031/2013.40635) @2011
Authors:   M. Pérez-Ruiz, A. Rodríguez-Lizana, J. Carballido, J. Agüera, F. Pelegrín
Keywords:   Application technology, Education, Precision agriculture, Teaching models

An educational variable-rate application (VRA) sprayer was developed and laboratory tested at the University of Seville (Spain). It was designed and built during 2009 by the undergraduate engineering students in a Precision Agriculture course and used as a teaching model in an Agricultural Machinery course during 2010. The first stage involved mounting all the instrumentation, sensors, and the hydraulic system on a metal platform. The second stage involved mounting a DGPS receiver, flowmeter, automated application control system, and all necessary electrical connections to the platform. Preliminary calibration tests of the equipment at a constant speed of 0.375 m s-1 (1.35 km h-1) showed good performance for pressure (kPa) and application rate (L ha-1) (R2 = 0.998, p < 0.001). To evaluate the teaching method based on the prototype, a short-answer assessment test was conducted consisting of ten multiple-choice questions, each with one possible correct answer. Data were analyzed using analysis of variance (ANOVA). The factors were the teaching method (TM), repeated course (R), and attended theory (AT). In addition, the effect of a covariate (number of times a student repeated the course) in the factors was controlled with an analysis of covariance (ANCOVA). The effect of teaching method was significant for the score on the VRA sprayer questions (SPS) variable and the score on the conventional sprayer questions (SCS) variable (p < 0.001 for both). The average success for students using the prototype sprayer was 86%, compared to 60% for those using a conventional sprayer. The total cost of the VRA prototype sprayer was 40% less than the cost of retrofitting a conventional sprayer with precision agriculture equipment. Since the students were engaged in their own learning, they maintained a high level of enthusiasm throughout the course when utilizing the VRA prototype sprayer. It has proved to be a complementary and beneficial alternative for improving the students' education in the Agricultural Machinery course.

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