Ivy Tech Uses New Sprayer Simulator to Teach Next Generation of Sprayer Operators

It’s all about finding and training the next generation of young adults to work in the ag industry as sprayer operators. That’s why Ivy Tech Community College in Columbus is offering a new training program – and has the latest technology to make that training possible.

“We want to be able to train and put out the very best people we can,” says David Harrell – Interim Chair for Precision Ag at Ivy Tech Community College in Columbus. The college has teamed up with Premier Companies to introduce a 16-week Sprayer Certification program to help young people fill positions as sprayer operators.

“We’ve really seen explosion across the state of hiring out the spraying and the fertilizer application just because the farms are so big and there’s just not enough hours to get everything done,” says Harrell.

“Talking with Premier Ag, they have had a surplus of machines and not enough people sit in those seats this spring. There’s just a lack of employees that want to be sprayer operators, or perhaps, there’s even a lack of those that know they want to be a sprayer operator,” according to Harrell.

Part of Ivy Tech’s new Sprayer Certification program includes training on a Sprayer Simulator, which was developed by a company called Simformation. It’s like virtual reality – As you sit in the simulator, you’re surrounded by three large TV screens as if you’re inside the cab of a large sprayer. The seat even vibrates and moves as you operate the simulator!

“It starts out with the you leaving the co-op and driving down the road to a field, then having to apply fertilizer or chemicals to that field,” says Harrell. “The simulator has grass waterways, terraces and all the things we see in real life. It gives you a real opportunity to get some seat time and learn all those controls before we put you in a $600,000 sprayer.”

Ivy Tech
David Harrell with Ivy Tech Community College at its Columbus campus sitting in the Sprayer Simulator. Photo: C.J. Miller / Hoosier Ag Today.

David says he hopes the Sprayer Simulator not only helps train young adults, but gets them excited about this career and other job opportunities in the ag industry.

“As we see that ag front continue to evolve, there’s plenty of people out there that didn’t necessarily come from production ag that would make excellent operators. They just have to know these opportunities are there,” says Harrell. “That’s one of our biggest challenges across the state is finding a way to keep these highly interested people in our state, give them a great paying job with great benefits, and – at the end of day – taking pride in helping that farmer who’s trying to cover 10,000 acres on their own and making them as success.”


Click BELOW to hear C.J. Miller’s news report and interview with David Harrell, Interim Chair of Precision Ag with Ivy Tech Community College in Columbus, as he talks about the Sprayer Certification program and the new Sprayer Simulator that is being used with Ivy Tech’s ag students.


Click HERE for more information about Ivy Tech Community College’s Precision Agriculture Equipment Technology program.


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