Mechanization has long been an agricultural driver from the horse-drawn seed drills of the 1700s to modern combine harvesters with satellite-based navigation systems. Today, farmers are increasingly turning to robots and other advanced technology.
In this episode of Farms, Food and You, two Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering faculty members with their fingers on the pulse of technological innovation for agriculture discuss their research and what they think it will mean for the farms of the future.
Jason Ward leads NC State’s Advanced Ag Lab in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering. A native of Kentucky, Ward had no agricultural background before he attended the University of Kentucky as an undergraduate and graduate student in the early 2000s. There, he quickly became captivated by advanced technologies and how they could enhance agriculture. After earning a Ph.D. from Mississippi State University, he joined NC State in 2017 and is an assistant professor and extension specialist.
Sierra Young is an assistant professor in NC State’s Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering. She holds three degrees in civil engineering: a bachelor’s from Cornell University and a master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She also studied environmental engineering and worked on a project using unmanned aerial and surface vehicles for water management in South India. That sparked her interest in robotics, and today she runs NC State’s DAISy Lab, short for Digital Agroecology and Intelligent Systems. She joined the university in 2019.