Precision Agriculture Takes Flight at NC State

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Rebecca Nagy, NC State University

Take a walk into the Suggs Laboratory for Precision Agriculture and Machine Systems and it’s hard not to be impressed. Named after Charlie Suggs for his contributions to the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering (BAE), NC State, and the field as a whole, the lab embodies his work ethic and dedication to furthering knowledge.

The brightly lit space houses a sleek drone fitted with crop sensors in one corner and a tractor with a field computer and automatic steering being installed in another. Both will be used in various research, extension and academic projects, all with the aim of improving and increasing efficiency in agriculture. A newly mounted whiteboard takes up most of another wall. Current projects, collaborators, and bullet points are scrawled across the board, spanning research areas from cotton, to Christmas trees, to corn and pigs.

“I tried to take a photo to show my parents, but couldn’t fit it all in just one photo,” comments Kyle Townsend, an undergraduate researcher in the lab.

One such project underway involves placing sensors over corn crops to assess weather damage.

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Precision agriculture takes flight at NC State