Future farming technology unveiled at Sunbelt - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Future farming technology unveiled at Sunbelt

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October 17, 2006

Moultrie -- For the first time in the Sunbelt Expo's 29-year history, rural broadband in being showcased. It is technology that can lower costs for farmers and improve their productivity.

There have been a lot of clouds and overcast skies at the Sunbelt Expo, but there's one cloud you can't see. It's a high speed broadband cloud, basically different receivers on poles that create an Internet blanket over the Expo.

It's the new wave in automated farming that could make day-to-day operations on a farm more efficient.

Sensors are planted in the ground across the Sunbelt Expo. They're reading the ground temperature and moisture rate and sending it back to the Camvera booth. "We are bringing the data from the farm field through the Internet cloud, to your home your office or your hands," said Paul Gupta of PreSoft Ag. Solutions. 

A radio signal is sent from the ground sensor to a receiver on a tower and that information is passed on to an Internet cloud that covers the Expo or a farm. It's technology that can cut a farmers bottom line. "It cuts down on energy costs, it increases productivity; it cuts down on labor costs and the bottom line it makes the farm more productive," said John Overlay, V.P. of Cofounder Camera.

More productive because a farmer can see how his crops are doing any time or anywhere and react.  "Based on the sensor data it can give you the recommendation that your farm is dry, to irrigate the farm so much, three and a half to a quarter of an inch," said Gupta.

And make decisions to either water crops, run equipment, or make changes based on information sent to their computer either in an office or in the palm of their hand. Overlay said,"You can use the Internet and these technologies to control irrigation systems, to turn them on and off, to collect all kinds of information that eliminates the need to physically go out and do these things."

The sensors are battery-operated, but they also have a solar panel backup. A system like this is expensive; it's nearly $2,500 for one unit and $100 a month for the service to monitor the system. Camvera is hoping to get a grant from the state to help farmers defray the cost.

Farmers are interested in this technology, despite the costs. Nearly 2,000 south Georgia farmers in a five-county area have expressed an interest in this technology for their farms.

They say this technology will help make them more competitive with farmers in more populated areas. Similar systems have been installed in 35 communities so far, the farm systems are expected to go into production in January.  


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