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Lehmann to be North Dakota State University's first precision ag graduate

Justin Lehmann will be graduating from North Dakota State University this spring. He will be the first student to graduate with a degree in precision agriculture from NDSU.

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Justin Lehmann will be NDSU's first precision ag graduate. Photo taken April 26, 2021, at Fargo, N.D. (Emily Beal / Agweek)

Justin Lehmann’s college experience has been anything but ordinary. While most students choose a major or field of study that has a concrete, laid-out plan, Lehmann went against the grain. This spring, Lehmann will be graduating from North Dakota State University with a degree in precision agriculture, making him the first to ever do so.

“It seems like my whole college career I have kind of been the guinea pig,” Lehmann said. “Which is completely understandable, since it is a brand-new program; really just starting from scratch and working with the curriculum from the ground up.”

For two years, Lehmann attended North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, N.D, where he studied precision agriculture and agronomy. Lehmann then heard of the precision agriculture program that NDSU was going offer, and decided to transfer and partake in the program, despite it being in its infancy.

“I have always had a liking for technology, and growing up on a family farm I saw all these technologies we were adopting. I really wanted to grow my knowledge and really learn how they could be a benefit to farms and farmers,” Lehmann said. “I grew up having a strong passion for everything agriculture, and then my passion for precision agriculture grew as I went into college and saw these technologies available,” Lehmann said.

Lehmann grew up on his family’s farm near Havana, N.D. The farm is a diversified operation, encompassing corn, wheat, soybeans, cover crops, alfalfa and oats. The family also has a small Angus cow-calf operation. Lehmann was also an active FFA member during high school.

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Lehmann's passion for agriculture and technology led him to pursue a degree in precision agriculture. (Contributed photo)

Lehmann’s academic adviser, Paulo Flores, believes Lehmann’s farming background helped him be prepared for this new program and allowed him to excel in the classroom.

“Having a background in agriculture is really something that helped him in our program, because he has a lot of knowledge about crops and the application of the precision ag technologies. He is very interested in that and bringing that knowledge back to his own operation. He is a great student and is always looking at things and asking questions and participating in the classroom,” Flores said.

This spring, Lehmann will be graduating not only with a degree in precision agriculture, but with a full-time job lined up as well. Lehmann worked for Infinity Ag, where he was the precision ag and agronomy intern. In his new full-time position, Lehmann will be the company's agronomy manager.

“As the agronomy manager, we will be using basic agronomic principles and guidelines to help farmers grow their farms and maximize their productivity while using precision ag technologies,” Lehmann said.

Though scary to some, Lehmann encourages others to take the dive into new programs.

“I say, go for it."

Emily grew up on a small grains and goat farm in southern Ohio. After graduating from The Ohio State University, she moved to Fargo, North Dakota to pursue a career in ag journalism with Agweek. She enjoys reporting on livestock and local agricultural businesses.
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