Ag Innovation Takes Spotlight

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The agBot Challenge takes place at Gerrish Farms in Rockville. The agBot Challenge takes place at Gerrish Farms in Rockville.

A high-tech, agriculture-focused event that kicks off Friday in Rockville underscores innovation as well as an asset lacking in many rural communities: high-speed internet service. The agBOT challenge pits teams of university students and entrepreneurs against each other in unmanned robotics competitions at Gerrish Farms in Parke County. In an interview in our Life Sciences INdiana e-newsletter, owner and Manager Steve Gerrish said the challenge brings together innovators, investors and entrepreneurs in a sector with room for new technology.

Gerrish said the event will showcase what advancements in drones, robotics and artificial intelligence can accomplish with unlimited broadband. He talked about the range of potential applications. "Autonomous machine-learning for planting, tending and harvesting the crops, the advances in artificial intelligence - bringing that intellect to your decision-making on the farm is enormous," Gerrish said. "Anybody that has a cell phone... realizes having that at your fingertips for every single problem on your farm could be extremely powerful - not just for the farmer to make a living, but for the consumer for food traceability and food safety. There are all types of really cool implications."

This weekend will be the second agBOT challenge. The Seeding Competition involves planting 1,000-foot rows of different seed varieties while weighing and applying fertilizer, all while live-steaming the task. A new Weed & Feed Competition will involve technology to identify weeds in cornfields and remove them chemically or mechanically. Gerrish Farms has fiber optics installed on-site to fully-wire the property. Gerrish has created his own company called airBridge, which helps bring broadband connectivity to the "last mile" for rural operations.

You can connect to more about the challenge by clicking here.

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