Hadlow College worked with leading architects, Studio Evans Lane, to develop the device, which is designed to create an immersive learning environment for Hadlow’s students. Combining sophisticated graphics and state-of-the-art engineering, the bespoke device features a completely custom-made computer simulation to educate Hadlow’s students. Such revolutionary technology is set to inspire the next generation of farmers.

The introduction of Hadlow’s prototype demonstrates the college’s progressive approach to farming and food production, putting the college at the forefront of integrating agricultural education with this prototype technology.

To develop the prototype, representatives from Hadlow and Studio Evans Lane explored what digitisation means in the farming industry, especially in a broad, long-term sense. With climate change, population growth and the degradation of the eco-system all playing a role in the struggle to meet global food demands, automation is the modern and efficient alternative to ensure people on this planet will never be at the point of starvation.

Hadlow College and Studio Evans Lane also worked collaboratively to develop the prototype’s software; which draws on current computer-gaming simulation technology and takes into account numerous variable relating to current legislation, the crop selection and soil types in order to create real-world farming scenarios for students to solve. Taking students through a yearly cycle of arable farming, students must make quick, effective decisions to maximise crop yield and profit on a budget.

Made from laser-cut, lightweight aluminium, this demountable prototype features a high-resolution projector which casts the computer programme onto a lightweight screen Made from sharkstooth scrim, the type of translucent and transparent screen used in theatres, the screen ensures the icons and graphics are visible from the front and the reverse. Lecturers and students may operate from one side of the screen, where the screen is then flipped so students on the other side can follow the process without any awkward head-turning.

For students, this gauze-like screen gives the remarkable illusion that they are flying a drone in a farming space. Not only is it an asset to Hadlow’s education, it will truly make a difference to a student’s sense of fulfilment on the agriculture course.

We are living in an age where an entire generation of young people have developed a complete skill-set from playing computer games. Hadlow’s innovative approach to agricultural education signifies how these skills can be applied to real-world situations and vocations, particularly for young people to flourish in an exciting and relevant career path.

The prototype exemplifies a concerted move towards virtual-reality learning as an alternative to a traditional lecture format. Available for a variety of levels from 3-6; there is never a dull moment in this educational environment. Whether students are driving a real tractor or responding to a multitude of serious variables, it is not a prescriptive learning environment. It’s fast-paced, risky and completely relevant to the current, and future, farming climate.