By Steve Lohr, The New York Times
About 150 Jersey cows in the rolling terrain at Rivendale Farms in Bulger, some 25 miles west of Pittsburgh, wear Fitbit-like collars that monitor their movement, eating and rumination patterns. They are milked not by humans but by robotic machines.
A nearby greenhouse, about a quarter-acre in size and filled with salad-bowl crops like kale, arugula and baby carrots, is automated. The temperature, humidity and sunlight are controlled by sensors and retractable metallic screens. And soon, small robots may roam the farm’s eight acres of vegetable crops outdoors to spot disease and pluck weeds.
Farming in America is increasingly a high-tech endeavor. Combines guided by GPS, drones, satellite imagery, soil sensors and supercomputers all help the nation’s food production. Yet that technology is mainly tailored for big industrial farms, where fields stretch as far as the eye can see.
Rivendale Farms, which has just completed its first year of full operations, offers a glimpse of technology coming available for smaller farms.
The milk, eggs and produce from Rivendale Farms, which spans 175 acres, are sold to selected local restaurants and hotels.CreditRoss Mantle for The New York TimesRead more
Mitchell, a city of 15,000 on the plains of South Dakota, where it is the center of a region that has lost 30% of its population over the past 70 years. But Mitchell has carved out a sharply different destiny. With a willing private communications company and a Federal broadband stimulus grant, Mitchell has developed a fiber-to-the-premise network serving every business and residence. Its university and technical school have leveraged the city’s agricultural heritage into academic leadership in precision agriculture, in which farmers use satellite and remote sensing data to develop a highly detailed portrait of their land and apply that knowledge to boost yields.Read more