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Nebraska Ag News Headlines
Lindsay to Senate Committee: Better Rural Broadband Needed
Nebraska Ag Connection - 11/10/2017

Tim Hassinger, president and CEO of Nebraska-based Lindsay Corporation, Omaha, offered testimony during a hearing conducted by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The hearing, titled Advancing the Internet of Things in Rural America, focused on the benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT) in rural communities and the infrastructure needs necessary to advance the IoT market to ensure rural America has access to products and devices that are driving the digital economy.

"Like all business owners, farmers in rural communities need the ability to go online," Hassinger said. "The Internet fuels the innovative, advanced technology that will help America's farmers meet the food, fuel and fiber needs of our rapidly growing global population."

Hassinger's testimony contends that with reliable, high-speed Internet access, farmers can take advantage of tools that deliver hyper-local weather forecasts, real time data on soil moisture conditions and GPS for planting and irrigation management. They can also take advantage of a myriad of emerging technologies available from Lindsay Corporation and other American manufacturers. The testimony further explains that these innovations enable efficiencies through remote data collection, transfer and analysis from connected devices like soil moisture sensors, weather stations and cloud-based tools.

"At Lindsay Corporation, we are developing and deploying technologies to help growers produce more with less. For example, our FieldNET and FieldNET Advisor remote irrigation management and decision support tools help farmers decide precisely when, where and how much to irrigate -- to help them maximize yields while reducing overwatering and related input costs and nutrient losses," Hassinger said. "But we know the technology is only as good as the farmer's ability to access it."

According to the Federal Communications Commission Broadband Access Report, an estimated 39 percent of the rural population (23.4 million Americans) lack access to broadband that meets today's benchmark speeds of 25 Mbps for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads. By contrast, only 4 percent of urban Americans lack access to 25/3 Mbps broadband.

"While cities and municipalities typically have access to several high-speed Internet service providers, that access often ends at the city limits. Those living in rural communities must depend on radio networks, satellite or cell service -- all of which typically operate at lower speeds, limiting connectivity," Hassinger said. "All farmers are faced with the pressure to increase yields while conserving resources. The lack of reliable broadband hinders their ability to adopt the new technologies that will help them optimize their operations and compete in the global marketplace."

Hassinger's full testimony can viewed at https://commerce.senate.gov.

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