Ag Tech News

Clemson expert bringing high-tech solutions to the farm

BLACKVILLE – The Clemson Extension Service has hired a new Extension associate to help South Carolina farmers learn how to use technologies to increase efficiency.

Michael Plumblee started working at Clemson’s Edisto Research and Education Center as a precision agriculture Extension associate on May 7. He will work with growers of all major crops including: corn, cotton, peanuts and soybeans.

“I want to work with growers and Extension agents to build a program where everyone can learn how to use precision ag technologies,” Plumblee said. “I want to help increase the adoption of these technologies. I want to bridge the gap between the engineering and agronomic aspects of precision ag and help farmers learn how to make use of technologies to improve their production capabilities.”

Plumblee is interested in helping farmers use yield monitors, soil moisture sensors, new sprayer technologies and variable rate technologies, among other technologies.

“My goal is to help farmers learn how to use these technologies to better manage inputs and fine tune their productions systems,” Plumblee said. “Most farmers know how to farm. Maybe we can help them do what they’re doing, better.”

Plumblee said his program will be “hands-on” training. “Seeing is believing” and Plumblee said he plans to do a lot of on-farm trials, hold field days and other activities to help growers learn about precision agriculture.

“Clemson Extension has great county agents who know South Carolina growers and they understand what South Carolina growers need and want as it relates to precision agriculture,” Plumblee said. “My plan is to utilize this network of county agents to interact with growers and help them determine what precision agriculture technology or technologies will work best for their situation.”

In addition to teaching how to use precision agriculture as related to crops, Plumblee said he also is interested in working with livestock producers and show how precision agriculture technologies can help enhance their operations. Precision agriculture technologies could be used to help with herd management, monitor feed consumption and help livestock producers keep better records. Plumblee said he also is interested in exploring how to use these technologies in horticulture and forage production.

Plumblee knows about precision agriculture and South Carolina. He graduated from Clemson University in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural mechanization. Then he traveled to the University of Georgia at Tifton, where he graduated with a master’s degree in agronomy in 2015. After earning his master’s degree, Plumblee went a little farther west to Mississippi State University where he graduated with his doctorate in agronomy this May (2018).

Plumblee said he is happy to be back in South Carolina.

“I like to do applied research,” he said. “And I like to work with farmers. I believe this position will allow me utilize my education while doing something I enjoy. I look forward to working with South Carolina farmers to help them use precision agriculture to improve their operations and maximize their profits.”


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