BroadbandOhio awards OSU $125K for cutting-edge Agricultural Connectivity Project

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 25, 2023

Staff report

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Development today announced state support of a groundbreaking initiative by The Ohio State University that is poised to revolutionize the future of agriculture in Ohio.

BroadbandOhio, a division of the Department of Development, awarded Ohio State $125,000 in grants to help establish high-speed internet connectivity to Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, Ohio so the site can be used as a demonstration area and proving grounds for autonomous farming equipment.

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“We know broadband access is important to all industries, and this initiative will have far-reaching implications for our farming communities which have always played such a vital role in our state’s economy,” Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said. “By providing an internet-connected site for testing new autonomous farming equipment, we will be able to better learn how we can create more efficient farming practices which will lead to increased productivity and reduced operational costs. As we embrace the capabilities of precision farming technology, we are poised to enhance the competitiveness of Ohio’s agricultural sector on a global scale.”

This project is expected to generate valuable insights into the effectiveness of semi- and fully-autonomous farming equipment that will help shape the future of agriculture. It also aims to serve as a model for other states, highlighting the potential for this technology to increase efficiency, reduce environmental impact, and enhance overall productivity in the agricultural sector.

“The collaboration between our team at BroadbandOhio and our partners at Molly Caren will propel Ohio into a new era of agricultural excellence,” said Lydia Mihalik, director of the Department of Development. “We are excited about the opportunities this will create for farmers, researchers, and entrepreneurs alike, and are proud to be at the forefront of this transformative initiative to further cement Ohio as the heart of agriculture.”

“Technology plays a vital role in the agricultural industry,” said Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Brian Baldridge. “The Molly Caren Agricultural Center is a staple venue for leaders, researchers and Ohio’s youth. This project provides the needed infrastructure to show off our cutting-edge equipment used by farmers in fields every day across the state.”

Following Tuesday’s opening ceremony of the annual Farm Science Review, the team at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center hosted a live demonstration of several pieces of precision farming technology benefiting from the connectivity: an unmanned Kubota M5 tractor and Great Plains Turbo Max tillage tool, a 360 Rain Crop irrigation system, and a “Connect CoW,” or Cell-on-Wheels, which is a mobile site that provides stable network coverage in areas traditionally lacking established access.

“As we continue through the digital agriculture revolution, reliable broadband is critical,” said Cathann A. Kress, Ohio State vice president of agricultural administration and CFAES dean. “We are grateful to BroadbandOhio for this investment, which will amplify our college’s research and delivery of cutting-edge technologies and practices to Ohio’s producers and agribusinesses through Ohio State University Extension.”

The Ohio Department of Development empowers communities to succeed by investing in Ohio’s people, places, and businesses. Learn more about our work at