New partnership promises interconnectivity for Nebraska farmers
COLUMBUS, NE -- New technology could be bringing big efficiency upgrades to farmers thanks to a partnership between a public power company and a major wireless network.
Tractors have gained automation, wifi and remote monitoring in the 21st century. Now that type of technology is spreading to all parts of the farm thanks to the Internet of Things.
“The access we could be gaining here is pretty big,” Giltner farmer Zach Hunnicutt said.
The internet of things is a network that connects and interacts with every day things. A new partnership between Nebraska Public Power District and PaigeWireless expects to vastly expand access to the network, especially for farmers.
“Where they’ll notice the biggest changes is going to be having the ability to source and deploy sensors at a very cost-effective rate," PaigeWireless President Julie Bushell said. "Examples would be soil moisture probes, weather stations, any on-off remote telemetry.”
That’s not all. You see sensors on pivots, grain bins, tractors, combines, sprayers and in the home. The partnership will allow more people to connect those sensors to the internet. Bushell says this level of access is unprecedented.
“This is breakthrough technology that is in Nebraska first," Bushell said. "We’re pretty excited to highlight that the Silicon Prairie is getting this before the Silicon Valley.”
Hunnicutt says the new network will help farmers to better manage their farms. He’ll be able to check soil moisture levels on his phone to see if he needs to irrigate, then check on the pivot remotely to ensure it’s working.
“It’s making sure things are working the way they’re supposed to and checking on things that I can’t check on, kind of giving me eyeballs all over the place," Hunnicutt said.
The Paige Wireless LoRaWAN Network was recently installed across the state. It is unclear how long it will be before it becomes popular with farmers and all Nebraskans.