The University of Missouri has launched the Digital Agriculture and Extension Centre (DAREC) to boost research, education, and outreach in smart agriculture.
Formed by a partnership between the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, MU Extension, and the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, the centre will leverage smart agriculture to help farmers and other agricultural producers move toward a future of sustainable agriculture.
Emerging digital technologies and AI will be examined for their potential to increase agricultural productivity and profitability. Key areas in agriculture, such as crop production, soil health, precision livestock farming, and engineering innovations, will also be explored with industry partners and agencies.
“The skills needed for today’s farmers are not the same as they were five to ten years ago, and it’s important for us to train the next generation of farmers to adapt and make use of existing and future technologies,” said Shibu Jose, associate dean for research at CAFNR.
“We want to investigate the next generation of technology,” added Jianfeng Zhou, one of the centre’s co-directors and an MU associate professor of plant science and technology.
“For both teaching and research purposes, it’s helpful to adopt the next-generation tools designed to improve the efficiency of agriculture.”
MU Digital Farm
One component of the centre will be a field demonstration site located at MU’s South Farm called the MU Digital Farm. The farm will be part of the Central Missouri Research, Extension, and Education Centre.
“By demonstrating new digital technologies at the digital farm, we will be able to document their benefits and use that information to show farmers and other stakeholders how to use these digital tools, many of which have already been developed but are not fully adopted yet by the agriculture industry,” Zhou said.
The centre hopes to accelerate the adoption of smart agriculture by building trust and confidence in farmers and other stakeholders by being proactive in its outreach efforts.
“The Digital Agriculture Research and Extension Centre will work with our MU Extension specialists to put new digital agriculture technologies into the hands of Missouri farmers,” said Rob Kallenbach, associate dean of extension at CAFNR. “The information, demonstrations, training and research that will come out of this centre will benefit our Missouri agricultural industry for years to come.”
The centre is planning a symposium for this spring.