The gates of the International Agri-Center in Tulare opened Tuesday morning to officially begin the 52nd World Ag Expo. During the opening ceremony, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson highlighted the role of technology in agricultural production and the importance of collaboration between agriculture and technology industries. Bridenstine spoke to the integration of technology that originated with NASA, such as satellite imagery and how it impacts growing operations.
“We can use that data to help farmers know specifically how much water to use,” said Bridenstine. “We’ve been able to demonstrate that the farmers that have taken advantage of this technology are keeping their crop yields the same and the quality of their crops the same while reducing their water use by 20 to 25 percent and of course protecting the nitrates in the soil.”
During the press conference afterward, Johansson noted the value of technological breakthroughs in areas outside of agriculture and how they can eventually make their way into farming. The convergence of both industries is expected to continue to increase as outside pressures heighten the need for optimum efficiency. Johansson also emphasized the similarities between agriculture and NASA in the significant return on the investment made in each industry.
Johansson and Bridenstine also spent some time touring the grounds of the World Ag Expo, stopping in at various ag technology vendors to see what appears to be resonating with the industry, including a conversation and flight demo with AeroVironment. Bridenstine mentioned some of the potential for the future of blending information gathered through lidar and spectroscopy and increasing water efficiency even further on a larger scale.
“Ultimately what we want to do is be able to precisely measure how much water will be available in a given year, how quickly that water will materialize from the Sierra Nevada mountains and then let water managers make the best decisions,” Bridenstine noted. “If we can do that, we can help water managers better allocate the resource without wasting a drop.”