A new study from the United Soybean Board shows broadband internet access in rural America can improve sustainability in agriculture. Farmers use data to inform their operating decision, including how to make their farm more sustainable, but without reliable and fast broadband connections, that data is not easily accessible. Meagan Kaiser, USB Treasurer, and a Missouri farmer, says data is the most valuable tool for agriculture.
“It provides access to innovative agricultural practices and more efficient use of resources. For example, in utilizing plant nutrients to increase yields without expanding acreage. Without a reliable connection to the internet, data collection and its subsequent use are severely limited.”
The study lays out 15 recommendations to deliver high speed internet that farmers and rural communities need.
“Some of the recommendations include adopt high performance standards. Performance standards for upload speeds and latency should reflect the changing need of farmers for precision agriculture. Another recommendation was to encourage deep fiber build out. Fiber build out in rural America will be needed to support capable wireless connections for higher bandwidth applications in the field. And lastly, address gaps in mapping on farmland. Broadband maps should include mobile coverage on agricultural lands with underlying data available to the public.”
Kaiser says rural broadband connectivity is an urgent need. A 2019 soy checkoff study showed that 60 percent of U.S. farmers and ranchers did not believe they had adequate internet connections to run their business.
“Efforts to incorporate data into day-to-day decisions are often thwarted by slow internet speeds, high costs and unreliable service. That study also noted that many farmers do not have another viable option to change internet service providers. But broadband access lets farmers measure our inputs and outputs more efficiently, which creates smarter, more sustainable, resource management.”
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed earlier this week by the House includes $65 billion for high-speed internet.
Source: NAFB News Service