Below is the opening paragraph of The promise of smart rural communities, by Deloitte Center for Government Insights. The first in a broader series, the full article explores what smart rural communities are, how enhanced connectivity can transform rural America across multiple dimensions, and the obstacles that stand in the way of that transformation.

Not your grandather’s farming

Take a trip to West Lafayette, Indiana, and you’ll get a glimpse into the future of farming in America. Situated at the intersection of the Great Prairie and a vast stretch of hardwood forest, the Agronomy Center for Research and Education (ACRE) at Purdue University comprises 1,400 acres of farmland undergirded by long-range Wi-Fi and an extensive network of sensors that enable the daily collection of 1.4 petabytes of data. ACRE represents the epicenter of the “Agriculture 4.0” movement, an effort to harness technology–from drones and satellite imagery to global positioning systems (GPS) and a wide array of Internet of Things sensors–to significantly increase the productivity of farming. By collecting, analyzing, modeling, and visualizing huge quantities of data, researchers at ACRE can better understand the impact of various inputs–water, fertilizer, and soil types, among others–and tailor farm operations with more precision. The goal? To reduce costs, improve yields, increase efficiency, and enhance the nutritional value of crops, in order to feed an estimated 9 billion people by 20501.

1Teena Maddox, “Agriculture 4.0: How digital farming is revolutionizing the future of food,” TechRepublic, December 12, 2018.