5G RuralDorset and Wessex Internet are partnering in the project, launching pioneering trials that will shape the future of food across the UK.
The project, led by Dorset Council and part-funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme, is aimed at understanding how next generation connectivity can help people live better, safer and more prosperous lives in rural communities.
There are four key research areas within the project, one of which is to understand how 5G can be used to address specific challenges in food production.
The agriculture and aquaculture trials, led by Wessex Internet, are the largest of their kind in the UK to date, involving farms from across the county. Two large arable farms in North Dorset, a mixed farm at Kingston Maurward College and a shellfish and seaweed farm on the Dorset coast are taking part.
“There is a huge range of exciting and innovative agricultural technology available from connected tractors, sensors, drones and even to robots. But the effectiveness of this technology for farmers has been hampered by poor mobile coverage in remote rural areas,” explains Hector Gibson Fleming, managing director of Wessex Internet.
“As poor coverage can’t support the transfer of data, farmers have to take the machine or technology back to base to upload information. This limits the immediacy of results and the ability to act on outcomes as they happen. We are hoping this will fix that problem and open up new possibilities.”
Wessex Internet aims to demonstrate that reliable 5G connectivity can help deliver affordable high-tech solutions that can work with existing machinery and equipment on the farm. It believes these solutions can drive fundamental change in the industry, both to the cost of farming and its environmental impact.
“Change in an industry such as agriculture usually takes a long time, but the end result is more revolutionary than first anticipated,” says Mr Gibson Fleming.
Peter Wharf , Dorset Council deputy leader, said, “We’re really excited to be working with Wessex Internet who bring a wealth of experience to the project in fibre operations and are a trusted partner in network architecture. We’ve also been really impressed with their ability to conceive exciting and ground-breaking applications for this very new technology.”
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