A Workshop Series on Robotics, Automation, and Drone Technologies for Sustainable Agriculture

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2023: $98,942.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2025
Host Institution Award ID: G117-24-W9986
Grant Recipient: University of California, Davis
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Ali Moghimi
University of California, Davis


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: workshop

    Proposal abstract:

    The use of technology is imperative to produce food, feed, fiber, and energy sustainably to meet the current and future demands without compromising resources and the environment. The transition from conventional to sustainable agricultural practices is leading to noticeable shifts in workforce development programs in the agriculture industry to adopt cutting-edge technologies, such as drone technology, robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence (AI), in farms. This transition toward sustainable, digital agriculture requires informative education and high-impact practices to keep agricultural professionals’ knowledge, skills, and ability (KSA) relevant to future work. The primary objective of this project is to educate the participants with the essential KSA to facilitate the transition of the new wave of technology revolution to farms. We pursue our goal by organizing a series of two-day workshops focused on disruptive technologies, including drones, robotics, and automation. We allocate two workshop offerings to crop advisors and agricultural specialists and two offerings to high school teachers and community college instructors. Ag specialists and advisors will walk away with a deeper awareness of the need for drone technology, robotics, and automation and with fostered technical skills for using these modern technologies for sustainable farming. Teachers and instructors will gain the essential knowledge and skillsets to develop curricula and strategies for educating the next generation of agricultural professionals through innovative pedagogy and high-impact practices in the midst of rapidly changing technology. Participants are expected to incorporate the new knowledge obtained in this program in their extension education, consulting services, educational programs, and policy-making activities. The primary outcome indicators to demonstrate our success in achieving the defined intended outcomes are changes in participants’ KSA as a short-term change (e.g., learning new topics about innovative technologies) and in their behavior/action as a medium-term change (e.g., assisting growers in using these technologies to make informed decisions). 

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The proposal’s objectives fall into three main categories:

    Objective 1: Assess the needs of California producers and analyze the regional job market’s demand to demystify what technical knowledge and technical skills agricultural professionals require (or are expected) to have to facilitate the adoption of innovative technologies aimed at promoting sustainable agriculture.

    Objective 2: Develop curriculum and hands-on activities for the workshop. The educational modules developed for the proposed program and the experience gained through the program will be invaluable resources for developing evidence-based curricula, science-based teaching materials, and high-impact activities that can benefit a wide range of educational programs, including K12 programs, community colleges, and universities to advance student understanding of modern transformational technologies in agriculture. In addition, there is a synergistic and complementary relationship (e.g., sharing equipment, resources, and educational materials) between the proposed program and the newly-launched Agricultural and Environmental Technology major at UC Davis, which aims to bridge the disciplines of agriculture, applied engineering, and management.

    Objective 3: Foster the technological knowledge and technical skills of agricultural professionals (industry partners, ag specialists, crop advisors, etc.), who will, in turn, assist the growers in adopting modern technologies, such as drones, robotics, and automation, to move toward sustainable agriculture by making targeted and informed decisions and tailoring their management plans to their desired outcomes. 

    To ensure the success and productivity of the workshop, the project team will leverage the available resources, such as the University of California Agriculture and Natural Research, UC Davis Center for Educational Effectiveness, and UC Davis Cooperative Extension Program, and the other institutes and entities across the Western region of the United States. In addition, local companies, such as FarmBot and Parallax, have agreed to collaborate on the development of curricula and educational activities.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.