By DOUG GRAVES
LONDON, Ohio — If you’ve ever wanted to climb into the cockpit of a crop duster and glide over a corn field now’s your chance. And the good news is you don’t have leave the safety of the to do so.
At this year’s Farm Science Review (FSR), visitors can participate in a series of virtual reality experiences such as operating a crop duster while applying fungicide, exploration of natural habitats, feel what it’s like inside a bee hive, take an aerial tour of Ohio, observe multiple machinery demonstrations and much more. All this thanks to FSR’s new iFarm Immersive Theatre.
“The iFarm Immersive Theater will be a great attraction this year,” says FSR Manager Nick Zachrich. “This theater can hold up to 20 at a time and viewers sit inside a dome and the video surrounds you. You can experience what it feels like to be in the cockpit of a crop duster over a field, along with 12 other videos. All of these are educational in context and most of the videos are just a few minutes long.
“The iFarm Immersive Theater is similar to an IMAX-type theater or planetarium. Visitors will get an expansive view, a bit wider than peripheral vision. It’s one of the big attractions this year for sure.”
To film the videos, Ohio State University Extension educators mounted cameras to various spots on planters, tractors, combines and other vehicles, so viewers can get a perspective they wouldn’t normally get.
“It’s a little bit like having a bug’s eye view of all of these places,” said Dr. Brooke Beam, Agriculture and Natural Resources/Community Development Extension Educator in Highland County.
One of the videos was taken by drones that flew over fields throughout the state to highlight the variety in Ohio agriculture: different crops, diverse soil types and an assortment of terrain.
“Young people will find the technology really enthralling,” Zachrich said. “But also, experienced farmers or producers will get a view they don’t normally get – a view of what someone else is doing. Then, they can see if it might be something useful for their own operations.”
Visitors to Farm Science Review will see the daily topics of harvesting, strip-tilling, global positioning, planting, manure and tillage demonstrations. New technology, Zachrich says, may take center stage this year.
“We have a lot of other new exhibitors with great technology,” Zachrich said. “Many startup companies will be there and will show visitors some new technology and information for producers and farmers. In the field demonstrations there will be a grain demo so visitors can see a tractor pull a cart without any driver in the seat. The combine operator can make adjustments on the go.
“Integrated Ag Services will demonstrate their hi-res soil sampling using aerial imagery. Artificial intelligence in the software allows them to make decisions in season. The drones can fly over a field and identify what pests are in the field, where they are and do a spot spray of those areas.
“And there is much more. Integrated Ag Services will show its Hi-Res soil sampling aerial imagery. Artificial intelligence in this software allows them to make decisions in-season. It allows them to fly over a field and identify what pests are in that field and determine where to fly and do a spot spray of those areas.
“Another company, Rantizo, utilizes spray drones using artificial intelligence. The company will have three drones flying at the same time, spraying these fields. They can spray cover crops onto bare areas in the field that need seeded.”