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SOAR Oregon backs UAS FutureFarm for digital agriculture

May 3, 2016  - By

SOAR Oregon, a non-profit organization focused on the development of the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) industry in Oregon, has given the city of Pendleton a grant for the establishment of a FutureFarm project at the Pendleton UAS Test Range.

The Oregon UAS FutureFarm is a real-world proving ground designed to help digital agriculture pioneers accelerate product development, reduce cycles and expand market growth.

SOAR Oregon is exhibiting at AUVSI Xponential 2016, being held in New Orleans this week.

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Pendleton Mayor Phil Houk (right) signs the FutureFarm grant agreement with SOAR Oregon. SOAR Oregon’s John Stevens (front left), Roundup City Development Corporation’s Mike Short (back left), and Pendleton UAS Range’s Steve Chrisman (back right) were on hand to witness the signing.

Once established in June, it will be the only digital agriculture proving ground of its caliber in the United States, SOAR Oregon said. Developers of agriculture-focused unmanned robotics and data systems will find the Oregon UAS FutureFarm has a broad spectrum of high value and commodity crops, multiple layers of remote sensing for benchmarking, and access to the agricultural knowledge base they need to test, validate and innovate the next generation of interconnected unmanned and automated agricultural systems.

The Oregon UAS FutureFarm features a network of research-friendly farmers growing a large variety of irrigated and dry-land crops in both traditional and modern farming infrastructures. Strategic partners include the City of Pendleton, Digital Harvest, SOAR Oregon, Blue Mountain Community College, Oregon State University and USDA Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Center.

“We believe that the Oregon UAS FutureFarm fills a clearly defined market niche for UAS platform and payload developers who are working on the next generation of technologies for precision agriculture,” said SOAR Oregon Executive Director Chuck Allen. “We are especially pleased that this project is taking place at one of Oregon’s FAA-designated UAS test ranges.”

“We are pleased to be supporting the Oregon UAS FutureFarm as both a partner and user,” said Young Kim, CEO of Digital Harvest. “The fact that the test range includes high-value tree fruit orchards, premium wine grape vineyards, hundreds of automated irrigated plots, and hundreds of thousands of acres of dry land farms makes it a unique and special zone.”

“The Oregon UAS FutureFarm is open to UAS developers, sensor makers, robotics companies, universities and any others who are looking for a real-world digital agriculture proving ground that is supported by a collaborative innovation focused community,” said Jeff Lorton, Oregon UAS FutureFarm project manager.

Pendleton Mayor Phil Houk signed the agreement with John Stevens and Mike Short from SOAR in attendance. “The FutureFarm represents what we’d hoped the Pendleton UAS Range could become — not just an environment for the development of technology, but the place where real-world questions could be solved with unmanned aircraft,” said Steve Chrisman, Pendleton director of Economic Development. “We are excited about the potential of this project to develop solutions which benefit growers across the Northwest.”

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