Precision Agriculture is the leading-edge IoT application for farmers, and the most extensive farming areas in the U.S. are sprinting to the front of the pack.
Precision agriculture is a farming management method used to describe farming that uses IoT technologies like satellite farming or site-specific crop management to observe, measure, and respond to changes in crop conditions in real-time. This presents apparent benefits to farmers because it can help them avoid the worst outcomes of overwatering, dry periods, and even pest infestations while preserving land viability and improving profits. In addition, these tools can allow farmers and ranchers to reduce environmental footprints, lower costs, and improve productivity.
Several U.S. states with considerable investments in agriculture are setting out plans to encourage precision agriculture deployments. Let’s take a look at two in particular: North Dakota and Nebraska.
South Dakota State University (SDSU) recently opened its Raven Precision Agriculture Center, with a grand opening ceremony for the 122,694-square-foot facility and a celebratory Precision Agriculture Bowl football game on September 11.
In a statement to the Brookings Register, John Killefer, South Dakota Corn Endowed Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, said, “We appreciate the support of the many South Dakota stakeholders who helped to make this new hub of teaching, research, and outreach possible. The new Raven Precision Agriculture Center features spaces to house modern precision farm equipment, 15 teaching labs, 12 research labs, and 22 collaborative spaces. Scientists from various departments and agricultural industry partners can collaborate in research, education, and outreach activities.”
SDSU was the first land-grant university to offer both a bachelor’s degree and minor in precision agriculture, the minor in 2015 and the major began in 2016. Since then, the program has graduated 36 students with a degree in Precision Agriculture. There are 82 current students enrolled in the major, and 57 are pursuing the minor for the Fall 2021 semester.
The new learning center, which costs $46.1 million, is hosting about 500 students that are studying agricultural and biosystems engineering, agricultural systems technology, agronomy, and agricultural science.
Just to the south, neighboring state Nebraska is also making moves, but at the national level. Nebraska Republican Senator Deb Fischer recently introduced the Precision Agriculture Loan Act and Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar. The bipartisan legislation is written to create a program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture that would provide loan financing to farmers and ranchers across the country that are looking to purchase precision agriculture equipment or solutions.
The proposed legislation was supported by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) in a recent statement. Dennis Slater, AEM President, said in a statement that the bill “will give U.S. farmers a whole new set of tools to help achieve climate goals while continuing to feed and fuel the world.”
In all respects, the technological improvements to process and sustainability enabled through the implementation of Precision Agriculture mean good things for farmers, eaters, and society in general.