By Dana Melcher, Corridor Communications Intern
Iowa’s dominance in the bioeconomy industry is not only a result of having the most fertile land in the nation, but also a result of its leadership in using technology to strengthen the value of crops.
The world’s population is expected to grow to 9 billion people by 2050, so technology is needed in order to provide enough food. Iowa is creating a solution to this challenge.
Solum, a Silicon Valley-based soil testing start-up company, established operations in Ames in a 12,000-square-foot lab employing 40 people. With a mission to make agriculture easier and more productive, they develop software and soil measurement technology to help growers manage farms more efficiently.
John Deere’s Intelligent Solutions Group designs displays and receivers, guidance systems, field and crop management tools, and information and logistics systems used in GPS-driven tractors with the goal of advancing productivity. Their Urbandale location employs a mix of over 800 software developers, systems engineers, product testers, marketers and customer support personnel.
Iowa not only serves as a home to these ag tech companies, but a home to the resources and the educated workforce as well.
Iowa’s universities are leaders in agricultural research and advancements, ranking among the nation’s top ten states for quality of university research and development. Advancements are made through resources, such as Iowa State University’s Center for Crops Utilization Research, a technology transfer program focused on adding value to Midwestern crops and biorenewable development.
Another strong Iowa resource is its students. Iowa colleges and universities produce nearly 2,000 engineering graduates per year. The state has also seen more than a 54% growth in computer science and computer engineering degree in the last 7 years – far outpacing the national average of 27%.
This isn’t the only growth that Iowa is seeing – Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has broken undergraduate enrollment records in the past 2 years and has the third-largest undergraduate program in the nation. The job placement rates for these students have been 97% for 16 consecutive years, with more than 70% starting their careers in Iowa.
It’s commonly known that Iowa produces the most corn, soybeans, pork and eggs in the nation. However, we are also producing agricultural industry-based advancements and the manpower to continue innovation.