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Young man in a field
"Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering strongly recommends that its students obtain internship experience prior to graduating form college. In today's highly competitive job market, the benefit of work experience prior to graduation is extremely beneficial when landing that first job."

Dr. Van C. Kelley
Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering
Department Head

Andy Socha's 2017 Internship at Precision Planting

Andrew Socha (Corcoran, MN), a senior double-majoring in Precision Agriculture and Agronomy, says his internship at Precision Planting in Tremont, Illinois, equipped him with a wide breadth of skills and knowledge that could be applied broadly in the agricultural industry. Socha worked on the beta testing the SmartFirmer, Precision Planting’s patented optic light sensor system used to measure soil temperature, soil moisture, organic matter and furrow residue. “My responsibility was to go out to the farms where it was being tested, and scout their fields based on the maps created by the firmer.”

Andrew Socha in the Field

Rather than focusing on product-specific skill sets, Socha says he evaluated agronomics from a wider standpoint. As a member of Precision Planting’s research and development team, he studied seed germination and uniformity, as well as general fertilizer management. “I learned the agronomics behind the products we were developing and now have a greater understanding of the factors that influence [plant] stands.” Equipped with the tools to help agriculture companies and farmers better realize the benefits of precision farming, Socha hopes to show the farming community ways to be more productive and efficient. “The end goal is to feed more people with less land.”

Economically, he says famers can save money by utilizing precision technology by cutting back on unnecessary inputs. Environmentally, Socha stresses the importance of sustainability: “Using site-specific fertilizer placement and timing will help farmers understand when crops need it so there’s no over-applying.” Ultimately, Socha believes that precision agriculture can help bring the younger generation back to the farming community and help rejuvenate struggling rural towns. “There will be new jobs that require a new understanding of technologies for young people.”

Gavin Held's 2017 Internship at Environmental Tillage Systems

Gavin Held, a senior Ag Systems Technologies major with an affinity for all things hands-on, spent his summer interning for Environmental Tillage Systems in Faribault, Minnesota, a leading manufacturer of conservation tillage and nutrient management equipment. Assigned to a team tasked with building a variable rate liquid machine that has the capability to put down up to 130 gallons an acre of liquid fertilizer, Held conducted research on the different components for the machinery.

Gavin Held at Environmental Tillage Systems

“I was never doing just one thing,” says Held. When he wasn’t out in the field talking to prospective customers about operating machines and answering tech questions, he was at trade shows displaying ETS’s products, or working with production in assembling machinery.

Held’s takeaway from his experience interning was this: “Communication is key.” As the middleman between ETS’s production, technology and service teams, Held honed his communication skills in an industry setting that required efficiency and confidence.

Being an effective communicator wasn’t the only thing Held walked away with. “I talked with different companies and was able to network with them. I made a lot of professional contacts.” Held hopes to gain different perspectives and innovative ideas from fostering these relationships.

Back at SDSU for his senior year, Held says his experience with ETS motivates him to be a more attentive student. “My internship helps me stay focused in class because now I’ve actually applied what I’ve learned at a job.” He says this is why his time with ETS was invaluable. “Interning prepares you for challenges; it opens your eyes to the real world.”

Held aspires to help farmers modernize farming practices through Precision Agriculture, which he calls the future of farming. “It’s already here but it’s always developing because new technology is constantly coming out.” He wants increase productivity and yields for farmers in South Dakota.

“I think Precision Ag is perfecting the art of farming.” Held says it allows farmers to plan their operations in cultivating and harvesting in cohesive ways to come up with strategies that will produce consistent crops.

Portrait of Lucas Ching

Lucas Ching's 2017 Internship At Climate Corporation

Lucas Ching, a senior AST major, interned with Climate Corporation in Wentworth, South Dakota, the creators behind Climate FieldView, a digital ag tool for farmers. As their research field assistant, Ching visited farms to conduct stand counts of corn, collect tissue samples for lab evaluation, and check rain gauges to compile data for the app. Ching says this data will optimize resources for farmers in the digital age.

Aside from collecting data out in the field, Ching worked with nitrogen application to see how different hybrids affected the seeds and their growth. He was able to work with crops directly, studying up close the various stages of corn, beans and wheat. This was especially useful information to Ching, who is taking a corn production class at SDSU. “Watching the corn develop through different stages gave me a better understanding of the crop.”

Ching says the most useful takeaway was information regarding pest control – how pests affect crops and how to manage them. Ching was unfamiliar with precision agriculture before studying at SDSU, and is continuing to learn about the field. He plans to utilize the knowledge to run his own family farm in Castlewood, South Dakota, as it continues to evolve. “I could bring all this knowledge back to the real world. It gives me a better idea on how to operate my farm.”

Ching’s outlook for agriculture: “I think everyone will eventually use precision ag machinery on their farms.” He believes young farmers coming out of school, like himself, will eventually relay what they learned on to their communities. “I want to know what the largest problems in agriculture are because I want to learn how to fix them and help my community.”

Please take a moment to review our internship proposal agreement here:
SDSU ABE Internship Proposal Agreement

Where do our students intern?

Here are just a few examples:

Ag Horizons (Hutchinson, KS)
AGCO (Hesston, KS, and Jackson, MN)
AgSense (Huron, SD)
Bobcat Company (Litchfield, MN, and Bismarck, ND)
Cargill Animal Nutrition (New Richland, MN)
Case New Holland (Davenport, IA)
Caterpillar (Peoria, IL)
Coastal Tractor (Salinas, CA)
Farmer's Elevator (Larchwood, IA)
FarmRX, LLC (Jackson, MN)
Fowlerville Farm (Fowlerville, MI)
Gehl Company (Madison, SD)
John Deere (Waterloo, IA)
Pella Corporation (Sioux Center, IA)
Pigott Ag Services (Cleghorn, IA)
Pioneer (Mitchell, SD)
Raven Industries (Sioux Falls, SD)
Star Circuits
Summit Farms (Spring View, NE)
Swift and Company (St. James, MN)
Urethane Soy Systems (Volga, SD)
Wells Truss Manufacturing, Inc.