Yorke Peninsula school students participated in a Crop Science Investigators program this month to help further understand modern farming techniques and global issues affecting the grains industry.
More than 200 year nine and ten students participated following a successful pilot program that was held in the Mid North last year.
The initiative aimed to engage students in how research and innovative technology are being used to solve global problems such as an emerging food crisis.
Central Yorke School, Port Broughton Area School, Moonta Area School, Kadina Memorial School and Ardrossan Area School students participated in hands-on activities highlighting the opportunities offered by the Australian grains sector.
Key topics include plant breeding and genetics, precision agriculture, weather monitoring, drones and immersive technology in farming, where students will wear headsets to experience virtual reality farming.
Central Yorke School student Joylene Wanganeen said she had begun to decide on a career direction.
"As a Year 10 student I'm starting to think about my future career. CSI has shown me that modern agriculture is a lot more complex and diverse than I had ever thought and that it actually does interest me," she said.
The program is the first of its kind in South Australia and is being delivered with support from South Australia Grains Industry Trust, AgCommunicators and the SA Education Department's Navigating Future Pathways program.
SAGIT chairman Max Young said the program was helping to expose and promote vital innovation in the grains sector.
"CSI is offering a hands-on experience to high school students which puts on display the research and development that is taking place so that the grains industry can meet the needs of a growing population," he said.
"The grains sector is achieving average yield increases of 1.9 per cent per annum thanks to the application of innovative ideas.
"The CSI initiative provides in-school support to inspire students to use STEAM to become innovators, creators and problem solvers."
AgCommunicators' Director Belinda Cay said the program was continually striving to develop new and creative ways to engage students in agriculture and STEM subjects that underpin innovation in the grains sector.
"It is exciting to be able to bring the CSI program to students in the Yorke Peninsula region after the success of last year's pilot program," Mrs Cay said.
"The CSI program is about using enquiry-based learning techniques to get students thinking about existing food production technologies, and then applying problem solving and critical thinking skills to develop new innovations which may benefit the sector."
The program's delivery partners include Viterra, Larwoods Ag Services, The University of Adelaide, Hart Field Site Group and Farm VR.