Top Online Courses Preparing You For A Foodtech/Agtech Career
As the food industry changes and becomes ever more digitalized and dependent on technology, the job market around agriculture and food is also evolving in particularly exciting and intriguing ways. Just because you don’t know how to drive a tractor, or have never set foot inside a pig pen, doesn’t disqualify you from jumping into the exploding market of agriculture and food technology (hereon referred to as agtech and foodtech).
While actual farm and food experience is undoubtedly useful, there’s room in these industries for technological specialties in a variety of areas. Thanks to the current prevalence of high quality online education, there are now tons of options at your fingertips to prime you for a career jump into foodtech and agtech.
The following are our recommendations for some of the more solid online opportunities to prepare you for a career in agtech and foodtech. We’ve outlined 8 in all, starting with some foundational basics and then getting more specialized as we go.
Online Courses On The Foundations Of Agtech And Foodtech
Before jumping head first into food and agricultural technology, you’ve got to understand what fuels the need and passion behind the merging of food production and technology, namely the need of technology to mitigate the imbalance between a rising global population and declining rural food producers. These first three courses are geared to familiarize the student with these concepts.
We’re coming out the gate with a big one right from the get go. This course is a VERY thorough and foundational course offered at EdX in conjunction with Wageningen University. While most courses at EdX can be audited for free, this specific course is actually part of a series of 3 interrelated courses, spread over 18 weeks, and headed by a combination of 15 professors, researchers, and experts in their fields, and as such does incur a cost. However, the course is exceedingly thorough and seeks to provide the foundational knowledge needed in food access and production to truly wrap your mind around the need for agtech and foodtech. This course also features graded assignments and a certificate upon completion.
Another offer from over at EdX and Wageningen, this course is part of the larger, aforementioned specialization on Food Security and Sustainability, but for those wanting a quicker, more generic overview on the Food Industry, this course is a great starting point. It’s an introductory course that uses lectures and graded assignments to give the student a grasp on everything from the changes in food manufacturing over the last century to highlighting the different interrelations in the food industry between traders, producers, and retailers. The overview this course provides could be a great source for entrepreneurs and startups trying to nail down their niche in the foodtech world and where they want to plug into. It’s free to audit, co-taught by 8 professors, and can be expected to take up to 6 weeks to complete.
This is a simple 3 week course available off the popular Coursera platform in conjunction with Yonsei University, featuring graded coursework and a certificate.
At first glance you may be a bit perplexed. The title, and the course content, has virtually nothing on farming or food. However, the goal of this course is to cover essential technological foundations that are prevalent in all tech driven industries, especially agtech. Learning the interrelation between Cloud Storage, managing huge data sets, and delivering content via CDN is crucial for those wanting to engage the agricultural and food industries with the latest technologies, and this course is designed to prepare the student to do just that.
Intermediate Online Courses For Agtech And Foodtech
The following 3 courses move into more specialized realms of technology and how they can be utilized in agtech and foodtech.
GIS stands for Geographic Information Systems, and it essentially refers to the cutting-edge cartography applications behind how farmers view, organize, and digitally manage their land. It’s what helps farmers visualize and make decisions that affect their land usage, and the types of data and information that can be utilized with GIS systems are virtually endless. The goal of this course is to give a fundamental understanding of this technology and how it could set up entrepreneurs and practitioners to better engage in the field of digitally mapping and managing farm land. This quick, 4 week course through the University of California Davis is highly rated, features graded assessments (if you go the purchasing route), and can even be the launching point of tackling a more thorough specialization around the topic.
Joel Wipperfurth, who leads Ag Technology over at WinField, MN in the U.S. commented that Internet of Things still hasn’t hit big farms yet, but when it does the impact will be tremendous. Those wanting to seriously engage in and invest in the future of ag and foodtech had better familiarize themselves with the revolution of connectivity that is IoT. The information out there on IoT can be overwhelming, but this very short, highly reviewed course at Udemy could be a good place to get your feet wet if you’re not quite familiar with the concept. It’s only an hour compilation of multiple lectures, and its goal is specifically to gear up beginners with a basic grasp of IoT. I’d recommend diving in, benefitting from the lectures and graded quizzes, and then gauge from there how much further down the rabbit hole you’d like to go. Keep in mind, this is a paid course through the well reputed GreyCampus Inc., and comes with a certificate of completion accordingly. (https://www.udemy.com/internet-of-things-iot-101/)
In a recent TED talk on agtech, Matt Waits, CEO of leading agricultural technology company SST Software, remarked that the incorporation of quantitative data is the “new revolution” in technology that will fuel the future trajectory of agtech. In other words, Data Science officially matters when it comes to food and agriculture! There’s no shortage of course options out there when it comes to Data Science, but this crash course by John Hopkins University on Coursera is perhaps the best place to start!
It’s free, designed to only take a week, but is specialized and focused with the goal of getting you up to speed on the basics of Data Science in a way that either lays the foundation for further specialization, or at least equips you well enough to help manage those that will be doing the dirty data work. Expect to devote at least 4-6 hours a day to the course however, and while the course can be audited for free, enrolling at a fee provides access to graded assignments and peer interaction. (https://www.coursera.org/learn/data-science-course)
Advanced Online Courses For Agtech And Foodtech
The next two courses aren’t for the faint of heart, but if you already have a leaning towards specializing in one of the following fields at an advanced level, these courses are some of the best that online platforms have to offer.
It seems like everyone has a drone these days and farmers are jumping on board too. Drones, along with the aforementioned GIS systems, are proving to be a huge asset to farmers in terms of monitoring, planning, and analyzing crop health. As such, familiarizing yourself with the use of drones in agriculture could be exceedingly beneficial. This paid course of over 20 lectures could take hours or weeks depending on how you pace yourself, and keep in mind it assumes you already have a UAV drone as well as know how to fly it. As such, this course aims to equip students to engage their drone skills with the realm of agtech and food production. You’ll learn how to process and build maps, as well as assess plant health from the skies!
This is by far the most prestigious (and as a result most expensive) course on the list, and for good reason. It’s a Micromasters bundle through Wageningen on Coursera offering outstanding credentials on navigating the change from fossil based energy to biobased resources. Much of the agriculture and food industries are knee deep in this transition, so it goes without saying a career in agtech and foodtech could do well by centering on the biobased movement. This 6-9 week bundle of 6 courses features a holistic package of graded assignments, a final exam, and capstone project. Expect to put forth pristine effort to earn an outstanding credential and opportunity to follow up with the full Master degree in Biabased Sciences from Wagenigen.
The good news is that the Agtech and Foodtech industries are growing and revolutionizing in rapid, new, and exciting ways. In light of this, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed in trying to narrow down the exact way you want to go about engaging and impacting these fields. These courses can provide some great foundational learning, as well as fine-tuned expertise in making an exciting career jump, or continuing to grow as a tech professional.