Students involved in Mississippi State University‘s (MSU) Future Growers Technology Initiative will be using 3-D virtual reality technology to navigate and increase their understanding of the high-risk aspects of the agriculture industry.

Today’s farmers, from family farms to large-scale agricultural concerns, are integrating state-of-the art technologies into their operations to increase crop yields and efficiently use water, fertilizer, and pesticides, decreasing negative environmental impacts and increasing worker safety. One aspect of this, controlled-environment agriculture (CEA), is a technology-based approach toward food production. CEA assists in providing protection and maintaining improved growing conditions for crops throughout their development within an enclosed growing structure, such as a greenhouse, optimizing the use of resources such as water, energy, space, capital, and labor.

Some of the goals of MSU’s Future Growers Technology Initiative are to “design next-generation cyber learning approaches [web and program application program interfaces (API)] through high-risk, high-reward agricultural computing systems and to increase the capacity of agricultural educators to advance student knowledge of production under CEA systems.”

One project, the development of a simulated virtual reality greenhouse funded by a three-year USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant, is nearing completion.

About the Author:

Shannon O’Connor has worked in publishing throughout her life. She grew up in a printing shop and has worked as a newspaper reporter, textbook/software editor, and for the past 20 years in educational magazine/website/enews publishing as an editor and writer. Most recently she served as editor of College Planning & Management magazine where she focused on sharing best practices in higher education with her readers. Shannon can be reached at