The wi-fi technology could make a big difference in the efficiency and accuracy with which growers can get to their information.
Stuart Pocknee, from the University of Georgia agricultural lab, believes some aspects of wi-fi will be integrated on farms in about five years, helping growers with insect control, tracking livestock, driving tractors, monitor soil moisture and controlling irrigation pumps.
Two Georgia farmers are already using the technology. One oversees vegetable packing through wireless video and the other relies on a wireless network to monitor irrigation systems.
Wireless technology is also used on a 1,600-acre farm near Macon, Mississippi, and on a 12,000-acre farm in the Mississippi Delta to control early season insect.
Qin Zhang, a University of Illinois expert on computer-aided farming systems, is working on tractors that a farmer could control through a wireless network and with robotic tractors guided by GPS signals.
Pocknee’s lab has created a wireless tractor too that can be guided by GPS signals or a human with a joystick through a wireless network. The researchers claim that this vehicle can already track across a field more accurately than experienced human tractor driver.
“What we’re really scared of is killing someone if it goes nuts,” Pocknee said of the robotic tractors. “The answer might be a fleet of small ones. It’s better to have one bounce off someone than run over them.”