Feb 19, 2019
Purdue draws innovators to Indiana for 4th annual agBOT Challenge

Purdue University’s College of Agriculture is partnering with Gerrish Farms to host the agBOT Challenge 2019, a three-day event May 16-18. The event includes the NextGen Expo, an interactive STEM event, and the agBot competition, an international showcase and competition of agtech unmanned machine innovations.

The events combine educational and competitive opportunities aimed at farmers, entrepreneurs, students and agtech innovators. The event will be held at the Agronomy Center for Research and Education (ACRE), 4540 U.S. 52 West, West Lafayette.

The agBot challenge, part of Purdue’s 150th celebration Ideas Festival, poses the question: What IF High-Speed Broadband Reached Everyone?

The agBOT Challenge was founded in 2015 by Steve Gerrish, owner of Gerrish Farms in Rockville and his daughter Rachel Gerrish, as part of an effort to bring awareness to the need for high-speed broadband in rural areas. Over the event’s three-year history, teams from across the U.S. and Canada have participated in the challenge at Gerrish Farms. The event showcased a variety of technologies, including those capable of automated seeding, weed identification and eradication, fertilizer application and watermelon harvesting.

“The agBOT Challenge was designed as a symbolic event to provide a vision of what could be possible if we had high tech and high-speed internet on the farm,” Steve Gerrish said. “Competitions are a great way to drive innovation and create a cross-collaborative effort in the agtech space.”

Several participants in previous agBot challenges have gone on to commercialize their competition entries or are in the process of doing so. In addition to highlighting the need for high-speed internet, Rachel Gerrish said another motivation of the challenge is to advance digital agriculture technologies.

“We’re delighted to bring the 2019 agBOT Challenge to Purdue,” said Karen Plaut, the Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture at Purdue. “This event will bring students, researchers and entrepreneurs together and will showcase innovative ideas and technologies that can provide solutions for the future.”

On May 16, ACRE will open its grounds to the public, inviting youth, educators, alumni and agtech supporters to NextGen Expo. This event will create a unique interactive STEM fair that explores the interface of digital technologies and agriculture.

“Digital agriculture, in its many different forms, is the future of agriculture across the globe,” said Ronald Turco, head of Purdue’s Department of Agronomy. “With a growing global population and a changing climate, tools like drones and other unmanned vehicles are going to be increasingly necessary to feed our world and support our farmers.”

Event attendance is free with pre-registration at https://ag.purdue.edu/agBOT/.

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