An Iowa State University professor who teaches an agronomy class through a distance learning program is trying to get her far-away students’ feet muddy with Iowa soil. Mary Wiedenhoeft says she’s put a virtual Iowa farm tour on compact disc.Professor Wiedenhoeft’s “virtual field trip” examines a wealth of aspects of the Paul and Lora Koch farm in Black Hawk County. They have 800 acres of corn and beans and they custom feed pigs in two nursery buildings. Wiedenhoeft says she took a lot of pictures, shot some video and made many scans. She says they plotted and probed their farm, did soil samples, got them a yield monitor to have yield maps, took pictures, did aerial photos, and they’ve sent me copies of their bills. There are even 360-degree panoramic views of the farm. Wiedenhoeft says the virtual farm tour offers a few advantages over what students on the Ames campus would receive, as there’s not the weather to contend with.Students working toward their master of agronomy science degree can now feel like they’ve visited an Iowa farm, even though the current crop of students are in states as far away as California and Florida. The next step, she says, is incorporating the smells of an Iowa farm into the C-D, perhaps on a scratch-and-sniff card.
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