FCC works to form task force to foster precision agriculture in the US
The Federal Communications Commission is in the process of forming a new task force to advise the commission on how to ensure farmers and ranchers across the U.S. have the connectivity they need to use and benefit from precision agriculture, the American Farm Bureau Federation said in a statement.
The task force will work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop policy recommendations to promote the rapid and expanded deployment of broadband internet service on unserved agricultural land, with a goal of achieving reliable capabilities on 95% of agricultural land in the U.S. by 2025.
Many of the latest yield-maximizing and environmentally friendly farming and ranching techniques require broadband connections for data collection and analysis performed both on the farm and in remote data centers, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall wrote in a letter last year. She urged lawmakers to support the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018, which was ultimately incorporated into the 2018 farm bill to become law.
“Today’s farmers and ranchers are using precision agricultural techniques to make decisions that impact the amount of fertilizer they need to purchase and apply to the field, the amount of water needed to sustain the crop, and the amount and type of herbicides or pesticides they may need to apply,” Duvall wrote.
FCC data shows that 39% of rural Americans lack access to minimum broadband speed service (25 Mbps/3 Mbps), compared to only four percent of urban Americans, However, there is no information about connectivity on cropland and rangeland, the bureau said.
The 15-member task force will include farmers and ranchers from a variety of geographic regions and farm sizes. Also represented on the task force will be internet service providers, the electric cooperative and satellite industries, precision agriculture equipment manufacturers, state and local governments, and people with relevant expertise in broadband network data collection, geospatial analysis and coverage mapping.
Some of the main duties of the task force will include:
-Identifying and measuring current gaps in the availability of broadband internet service on agricultural land;
-Promoting effective policy and regulatory solutions that encourage the adoption of broadband internet service on farms and ranches and promote precision agriculture;
-Recommending specific steps the FCC should take to obtain reliable and standardized data measurements of the availability of broadband internet service to target FCC funding for the deployment of broadband internet service to unserved agricultural land; and
-Recommending specific steps the commission should consider to ensure the expertise of the USDA secretary and available farm data are reflected in future FCC programs dedicated to the infrastructure deployment of broadband internet service and to direct available funding to unserved agricultural land.
Precision agriculture supported by internet of things (IoT) tools is being implemented in farming projects around the globe to improve the potential of the industry. Precision agriculture can help farmers deal with a number of challenges presented by agriculture such as water shortages, the limited availability of suitable lands for crop plantations, the difficulties farmers have to manage costs and the need to meet the increasing global demand for food resources.
Certain IoT platforms used in the agriculture industry allow farmers to manage the big amounts of data collected from sensors, connected equipment and existing systems. The platforms also leverage big data and analytics tools to provide insight and recommendations to improve the decision-making process of farmers.