Revolutionizing Agriculture Requires Rethinking Rural Connectivity

Luke Hogg is the director of outreach at the Foundation for American Innovation, where his work focuses on the intersection of emerging technologies and public policy. Shutterstock For decades, the federal government has invested in closing the digital divide between those who have access to broadband internet and those who do not, with mixed results. Since Congress has invested tens of billions more taxpayer dollars to connect America once and for all as part of the Biden administration’s infrastructure package, it is crucial that rural, agricultural areas are given the flexibility needed to build the most economically viable broadband networks possible. In some areas, this may mean experimenting with less proven technologies. When many of us think of agriculture, our minds immediately go to the pastoral images yeoman farmers pulling a plow across a section of land, producing just enough for a family’s subsistence. What few of us imagine is automated combines harvesting fields monitored by drones with crop performance analyzed using the latest artificial intelligence systems. For Americans born and raised in urban environments, it might come as a shock to learn that modern agriculture is closer to the automated corn farm depicted in the beginning of Interstellar than it is to Little House on the Prairie.  The internet of things (IoT) has come to agriculture, through precision agriculture technologies, or AgTech. Smart irrigation systems, live crop monitoring from drones and satellites, soil quality sensors, and task-oriented robots are just some of the high-tech tools being used on farms…Revolutionizing Agriculture Requires Rethinking Rural Connectivity