Wednesday, August 9, 2017 Leader Chosen, Plant Sciences Initiative Poised to Problem-Solve

Written by published on NC State’s CALS News.

The North Carolina Plant Sciences Initiative isn’t all roots and stems.

It’s genetics. It’s robotics. It’s big data.

And with this week’s announcement of a newly hired launch director, it’s about to get rolling — in a big way.

We can make a mark on agriculture for generations to come.


Entomologist, agricultural biotechnology business professional and commodity leader Stephen Briggs is now signed on to make this one-of-a-kind plant sciences research enterprise, housed in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NC State University, a reality.

“I believe in our stakeholders’ vision that this can be the Silicon Valley of agriculture for the world,” Briggs said. “We can make a mark on agriculture for generations to come.”

Briggs steps in at a critical time for the interdisciplinary, multi-partner initiative. In less than three years, the NC PSI has transitioned from a “big idea” to a highly anticipated center for plant sciences innovation. With the broad support of North Carolina’s agricultural community, the initiative will break ground on its state-of-the-art facility in 2019, with doors opening in fall 2021.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016 Agriculture Technology Spotlight: Self-Driving Tractors

Self-driving cars have been a hot topic for the past couple of years or so, with companies like Google, Uber, and Tesla doing some serious work to advance the autonomous vehicle concept. But despite the attention and the progress that’s been made, the world of driverless cars is still at least a few years away.

Meanwhile, out in the fields of rural America, farm equipment has been driving itself for the better part of two decades. Companies like John Deere, Case IH, Autonomous Tractor Company, and New Holland have been developing auto-steer and GPS-guided equipment that has helped define the future of precision agriculture. Want to see it in action?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016 Sound Principles, Solid Sources

Commentary by North Carolina Farm Bureau President Larry Wooten, first published in the Fall 2016 issue of NC Field and Family.

Welcoming all types of farming means more food choices for consumers

16-167-wooten_020ret5x7Without advances in agricultural technology, humans would still be hunters and gatherers with short lifespans due largely to starvation, malnutrition and disease.

Society relies upon sound science and technology – from the medicines that keep us healthy, to our methods of transportation, to the media that informs us. I shudder to envision modern society if fear had ruled public opinion when anesthesia, pasteurization, penicillin, vaccinations, the printing press and the combustion engine made their marks upon history. We sometimes have to make leaps of faith, such as the Wright Brothers did at Kitty Hawk. When these leaps are based upon sound principles, the result is often a blessing.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016 Securing a Strong Agricultural Future for NC


Written by Dan Gerlach, President of the Golden LEAF Foundation.

The Golden LEAF Foundation was created to ensure to ensure there would be dedicated resources to help transform the economy of rural, tobacco-dependent and economically distressed communities in North Carolina.

During my more than 20 years in North Carolina and my almost eight years as President of Golden LEAF, there’s no doubt in my mind that the heart and soul of the innovation, creativity, risk-taking, vision, and significance of North Carolina can be found in the farmer and grower.

Earlier this year, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors stepped out of our usual grantmaking processes to create a fund to support the development of major industrial sites across North Carolina. This fund would reduce the time it takes a big manufacturer to be build a plant and hire North Carolina workers, exporting product all over the United States and all over the world. With this $25 million, there would be no requirement that a company be committed, but rather faith that this seed corn would facilitate the location of good-paying manufacturing jobs to North Carolina. Manufacturing has long been part of rural North Carolina’s past, and certainly important to its future – though in a different way.

So it should be no surprise that our Board of Directors made one of the biggest commitments in our history – $45 million – to ensure that a facility on NC State’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh to house the Plant Sciences Initiative would be built. Manufacturing and agriculture are the two great workhorses of our rural economy, and are a major part of our future as well.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016 Agriculture Technology Spotlight: Drones

A couple weeks ago we talked about the growing use of drones in agriculture and outlined some of the policies surrounding drone usage. This week, we’d like to turn the spotlight back onto drones and provide some cool facts about how this technology is being used to help farmers improve yields, use inputs more efficiently, and increase profitability.


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Wednesday, July 27, 2016 What’s the Deal with Drones?

What is a drone? Where can I fly one? Do I need a license? Can I shoot one down if it flies over my house? These are all frequent questions people ask about Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), commonly known as drones. (If you don’t read any further, no, you should not shoot them down.)

Basically, a drone is a remote controlled aircraft, usually equipped with a camera and/or other sensors. The technology has become increasingly popular over the past few years and more people are beginning to utilize drones for things like data collection, photography, videography, and monitoring personal property.

But this is an agriculture blog, right? So why are we talking about drones?