Rural Broadband

The Ohio State University and two partners are deploying a private cellular mesh network for the school’s Molly Caren Agricultural Center. The private smart agriculture network will provide seamless connectivity among sensors, connected field machinery, autonomous vehicles and other devices.

The 2,100-acre center focuses on digital agriculture including precision farming, guidance systems, global navigation satellite system (GNSS) services and equipment autonomy.

“One of the benefits of the private cellular network is its unique flexibility and scalability, which can be more cost-effective than other communications infrastructures,” Dr. Scott A. Shearer, chair of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Ohio State University,“ said in a press release. “As our needs evolve, we can expand the network very quickly and inexpensively to pursue new research initiatives that will accelerate the adoption of digital agriculture technologies to improve agricultural productivity and sustainability at farm, regional, national, and global scales.”

Partners in the project are CNH and GXC. CNH designs, produces and distributes agricultural and construction equipment. GXC produces private cellular network solutions for enterprises.

Precision agriculture is one of the most popular and obvious use cases for 5G networks.

In August, the FCC said that it aimed to re-charter the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Task Force. It will be the third and final term for the task force, which was established in the 2018 Farm Bill.

This spring, the NCTA and the Future Today Institute released a smart agriculture white paper. “The Future of Agriculture and Food in a 10G World” pointed to improved monitoring of farm ecosystems, supply chain security and scalability for indoor farms as key agriculture applications for advanced networks.

Data released recently from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service found that one-quarter of farms nationwide use precision agriculture. Farms using the technology exceed 50% in North Dakota (57%), Nebraska (55%), South Dakota (53%) and Illinois (51%). The other extreme is West Virginia, where only 8% of farms use precision agriculture.

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