Digital technology has the potential to change agriculture, and on Tuesday, area farmers had the chance to learn how they can be on the cutting edge. The Wabash Heartland Innovation Network discussed the “internet of things” and its impact, during an event hosted in cooperation with the West Central School Corporation.
West Central Superintendent Dan Zylstra says WHIN is trying to connect entrepreneurs with farmers who are able to test their technology on their fields. “So farmers can get in on the ground floor of some of these innovative technologies that utilize the internet of things,” Zylstra explains. “They can do it for a small or no-cost start. They can provide the data to Purdue and the WHIN organization who can then test this technology and make sure that it’s working as it’s supposed to and develop it and improve it.” That, in turn, will hopefully bring more entrepreneurs and business to the local region.
West Central’s FFA students are already applying new technology at their plot at the high school. Zylstra says that during Tuesday’s event, students discussed how they’re using a weather station purchased with WHIN grant funding. “They can use that weather station and have used it in terms of moisture levels for soil sampling, to find out the sun and other things regarding growing temperatures and items that are pertinent to how quickly the crops mature,” Zylstra says.
They’re also using soil and imaging technology to look at the planting, spraying, and harvesting processes. “So they can have sort of a digital picture of the different areas of the field and how those things mature over the year, how much spray they’ve used in certain spots,” Zylstra explains.
He adds that Tuesday’s breakfast event had a great turnout of about 37 individuals. “The few that I talked to afterward were very excited at these possibilities and kind of seeing the next generation of technology and how it might look on their farms. And I would say this, too, as a takeaway from the event, the best conversations all happened at the tables while they were eating and after the presentations occurred, where the different farmers and ag-related folks who were at the event talked about the potential for these things in smaller conversations.”
Zylstra feels that WHIN’s initiatives have a great potential for helping Pulaski County and the surrounding area develop technology, in order to keep farmers and ag-related business in the area.