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Yolo County AgTech Pilot

Agricultural is quickly becoming increasingly reliant on technology for water and energy conservation, reduction of chemical inputs, and increased productivity. Yet many areas of our region do not have access to broadband. (Broadband is defined as technology-neutral, high-speed Internet access from both wired and wireless infrastructure.) Without access to broadband, farmers and ranchers are unable to adopt new technologies and stay economically viable. 

The California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) is supporting pilot projects in Yolo and Fresno Counties, two leading agricultural counties which have high levels of underserved and unserved rural agricultural areas. 

What is the goal?

The goal is to document the need for broadband access in rural areas for agriculture. This documentation can then be used to support the investments necessary to increase access in those areas.

Why is this important?

Agriculture in our region is valued at greater than $4.4 billion and is a major driver of the farm to fork economy. The food and agriculture sector provides over 37,000 jobs. Yet agricultural land is under constant pressure of development. Valley Vision is working to support keeping ag land in agriculture.

What is Valley Vision doing about it?

The project has three components: research, a grower's survey, and a pilot study. The research conducted by Valley Vision will document the value proposition of broadband to agriculture, exploring current findings on the subject, studies in progress, and research gaps. Our proximity to UC Davis, the premiere agricultural research university in the nation gives us access to the most up-to-date information.

A grower's survey completed by Yolo County growers will provide qualitative evidence of broadband capacity and gaps in rural areas. In partnership with the Yolo County Agriculture Commissioner's office, we will administer the survey to growers in early 2017 with results in the Spring of 2017.

The pilot study will test the efficiency of cutting edge precision agriculture technologies. Valley Vision is partnering with AgStart - a nonprofit agtech incubator - and three Yolo County farmers to test new technologies with three different types of crops: almonds, grapes, and tomatoes. Data will be gathered through Spring 2017, with findings published by June 2017.

What is our desired impact?

To support our rural communities by increasing access to broadband.

How does this effort affect triple-bottom-line objectives?

Economy: The food and agricultural industry is an unparalleled economic cluster for the Sacramento region, offering immense growth opportunities and sustainable economic vitality. Supporting our farmers and ranchers is crucial to growing this sector.

Environment: New, broadband-enabled technologies help farmers and ranchers conserve water and energy, reduce chemical inputs, and increase productivity.

Equity: Increasing broadband access in our rural communities helps to cross the digital divide, creating more equitable opportunities for farmers, farmworkers, and others.

When?

Valley Vision began working on this project in 2015. Findings will be published June 2017.