Last week, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) met with local innovators on ways to modernize America’s infrastructure. On Thursday, Aug. 24, working with Microsoft engineers and local farmer Sean Stratman, she toured Dancing Crow Farm near Carnation.
Microsoft is partnering with local farms to pilot the FarmBeats project. FarmBeats uses “Internet of Things” sensors and other technologies to enable data-driven agriculture, helping growers to make educated decisions on where to plant, what kind of crop will grow best and how much to water.
While the sensors are fairly inexpensive, the challenge is getting the collected data to the farmer. Microsoft has invested in applying unused TV waves, known as white spaces, to advance precision agriculture in these rural farm areas.
DelBene has called for increased access to broadband to be included in any larger infrastructure package that may be considered by Congress.Access to broadband in rural areas can dramatically increase opportunities for economic development, transportation, education, healthcare and agriculture.
“Our laws and infrastructure are woefully out of date with the way the world works today and we need to modernize our policies to take advantage of great advances taking place right here in the Pacific Northwest, like what’s happening at Dancing Crow Farms with Microsoft’s FarmBeats technology,” DelBene said. “Lawmakers need to start seeing technology as basic infrastructure and embracing innovative solutions to ensure that we don’t allow a single community to be left behind. Internet access in rural areas can dramatically increase opportunities for economic development, transportation, education, healthcare and agriculture just to name a few, and we simply can’t afford to take any option or investment off the table where there’s potential for game-changing progress.”
For more information about the tour and the technologies demonstrated, visit https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/project/farmbeats-iot-agriculture/.