Agriculture and horticulture high school teachers from across New Zealand were in Hamilton last week for the 2017 National Agribusiness Conference at St Paul's Collegiate School.
They gathered around monitors, enjoying the chance to play with Farmax agricultural modelling software. The programme allows users to monitor, benchmark and analyse a farm's current situation, forecast different scenarios and plan ahead to make decisions in the best interest of the farm business.
"It's a great method for teaching farm systems," said Farmax trainer Jack Keeys. "If an agricultural student doesn't have a rural background, farm systems can be a complicated concept to teach and difficult for students to understand.
However, using Farmax students can learn how to create a full farm system from scratch. They can then observe and explore the ramifications that changing something on the farm has on its performance or finances. It's fascinating."
Chris Foot, St Paul's Collegiate School's head of agribusiness, said he found the Farmax workshop interesting.
"Technology engages students, and it is here to stay," said Mr Foot.
"If something engages them, and I think this will, it works for teachers too."
He said creating a simulated farm in Farmax could be useful in the classroom.
Farmax general manager Gavin McEwen said Farmax was offered free for educational purposes to secondary and tertiary educational institutions, and had widespread use in places such as the University of Waikato, Massey University and Lincoln University.