As global ag market begins boom, MSU launches new Agricultural Autonomy Institute
From left to right: Jessica Wolfe, research associate in the Geosystems Research Institute; Assistant Professor Nuwan Wijewardane and Assistant Professor Hussein Gharakhani assessing a robot in a corn field as a UAV flies above at the W.B. Andrews Agricultural Systems Research Farm in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo By: Dominique Belcher)
By: Vanessa Beeson
Self-driving tractors. Robots herding cattle and picking cotton. Drones scouting for insect pests. Creating the technology and road maps that define tomorrow's agricultural landscape is happening today at Mississippi State University.
Mississippi State University (MSU) has established the new Agricultural Autonomy Institute, a focused hub for cutting-edge research in autonomous farming technologies such as self-driving tractors, cattle herding robots, and insect-scouting drones.
This initiative is a collaborative effort spearheaded by the MSU Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering.
“The global agricultural autonomy market is projected to grow from $5 billion in 2021 to $12 billion by 2026,” said Alex Thomasson, professor and head of the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. “MSU’s longstanding leadership in agricultural research and technological advancements positions us perfectly to establish the first U.S. institute dedicated to this emerging field.”
The immediate goal of the MSU Agricultural Autonomy Institute is to counteract the impact of farm labor shortages and boost precision and efficiency in farming, leading to improved profitability. Long-term objectives include developing autonomous machines with advanced sensing and analytic capabilities, which can make informed decisions down to the level of individual plants.
The institute also aims to turn Mississippi into a hub for the autonomous industry, attracting manufacturers, encouraging research and start-ups, and training a skilled workforce within the state.
“As Mississippi’s leading research university and one of the nation’s top 100 research institutions, MSU has consistently spearheaded the development and expansion of technologies to enhance agricultural production in the state,” said Scott Willard, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.
The institute is set to drive economic growth in Mississippi, with significant financial backing from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation.
As the founding director of the institute, Thomasson will lead the initiative alongside Madison Dixon, the former research director of the Raspet Flight Research Laboratory, who joins as the associate director.
For more information on the MSU Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, visit www.abe.msstate.edu; College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, www.cals.msstate.edu; Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, www.mafes.msstate.edu; and Bagley College of Engineering, www.bagley.msstate.edu.
Learn more about MSU's initiatives at www.msstate.edu.View More News