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Growmark Unveils New Simulator To Enhance Ag Skills

An agricultural cooperative company in Bloomington has used technology to become a pioneer in the industry.

Growmark on Wednesday unveiled its new FS applicator simulator to the media at the company’s learning center in south Bloomington.

The simulator is reportedly the first of its kind in the agricultural industry and was created as a training experience for FS system operators to practice handling field equipment before getting into the actual seat.

Growmark manager Erik Wilcox says the primary objective of the simulator is to provide realistic experience to trainees.

“This really takes a real-world operator and we simulate that,” Wilcox said. “So it puts us in an environment where we can be driving on the road whether there is rain, sleet and snow outside. ... It enhances your understanding of what is going on out there.”

The simulator features a front screen and two side screens on either side of the user, who sits on a raised, moving seat with a steering wheel and various other controls at their fingertips.

Users are able to practice in an open field setting before moving on to the two primary courses: road and field. The road simulation allows users to operate a sprayer on highways and streets while the field course gives virtually puts a user in a field.

Wilcox says that there was skepticism surrounding the simulator among the machine’s first users—until they tried it.

“When I first started talking about it, there was a lot of doubters who said it was just a big video game,” Wilcox said. “Once they get on, they not only say that it’s fun, they say it would be good to show someone else before they go out there (in the field).”

Growmark declined to reveal the cost of the new simulator.

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Nate Head is a social media intern for GLT. He's a student at Illinois State University.
Carleigh Gray is a photographer for GLT, as well as a student at Illinois State University.
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