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Zamorano and the technological update in sustainable agriculture

New investigations and research topics have been supported by the launch of Zamorano’s Master’s Degree in Sustainable Tropical Agriculture (MATS). Some examples of these include precision agriculture, acquisition of technological equipment to more deeply understand subject matter, use of drones in agriculture to create corn pathology studies and the use of chromatographic cameras for the measurement of greenhouse gases generated by livestock.

The advanced MATS studies are focused on development and technological innovation to allow for the adoption of new research methods to face challenges in agricultural production and to inspire solutions to future needs to benefit farmers. Zamorano has defined priorities in the agricultural, forestry, livestock and environment sectors, Graduation projects prepared by undergraduate students and thesis studies from students from the Master’s Degree in Sustainable Tropical Agriculture (MATS) are inspired by trends to grow knowledge and to take advantage of worldwide technologies.

Dr. Arie Sanders, Graduate Studies Associate Dean, shares, “MATS offers Zamorano a strengthening of its research branch and an opportunity to explore institutional trends. These are both very important because many of the students’ thesis propose an alternative solution that is more environmentally sound over something conventional that uses readily-available and easy-to-use technology”. MATS helps broaden students’ knowledge of the development of soil science research, crops, animal production and socioeconomic sciences. The goal of this graduate program is to launch professionals with the skills to analyze and comprehend agricultural systems and who are able to adopt and innovate sustainable development technologies.

Innovation and sustainability

Applying new technologies can be a complex process especially in place of the conventional methods farmers have followed for decades. MATS takes an approach based on a farmer´s orientation to their subject matter with the intention of exploring new solutions using research to generate knowledge that can then be applied. The goal is to bring innovation to long-standing practices that may not have been the most environmentally advantageous and not in the farmer’s best interest in the long run.

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It is important to note that applying innovative models that are adaptive and make use of technological advances can help create links for participation by companies, organizations and governmental institutions. This way the improved application of technologies can generate a positive impact both on farmers and on society in general.

“What the master´s program brings is a scientific vision; maybe the company does a trial and error. A thesis project at Zamorano is done with close attention to methodology, a hypothesis, and there is data surrounding previous studies and understanding that backs up this thesis topic. The advantage for a private sector company could be, for example, saving them time by offering an effective and scientifically-sound study that the company needed”, explained Murillo.

Technological applications and the use of innovative techniques have been reinforced by students’ participation in international internships where they acquire new knowledge. “ Most

of our student interns go to other countries, as our connection with the world is important for innovation and for guaranteeing continued exposure to new ideas, as well as to maintain large professional networks”, emphasized Sanders.

In the first graduating class of MATS students, thesis studies were presented with diverse research topics contributing to the development of the agricultural sector by applying sustainable agricultural principals. In this academic program, the students are mastering not only for sustainable development techniques but also important professional camaraderie experiences.

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