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There truly is no industry more integral to the livelihood of our community than farming, yet it is one of the most poorly connected sectors of our society. Many of today’s growers lack modern operational data and digital tools that preclude the optimization of things like irrigation, chemical usage, pruning and labor. The farming community in Snohomish County, Washington, is no stranger to this reality.

When the pandemic hit, agricultural mainstays were forced to meet high food demands while simultaneously battling labor restrictions and safety regulations. They needed to create a way to produce food efficiently and safely with fewer resources.

The Snohomish County 5G Food Resiliency Project was launched by the 5G Open Innovation Lab in December 2020 and was funded through a grant from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The Project was intended to facilitate academic research and industry collaboration that would enable Snohomish County growers to become more resilient and better equipped to handle future disruptions to food supply chains and economic unrest. Over time, the Project will bring important talent, experimentation and proven technology capabilities to help growers in Snohomish County and throughout Washington state.

Ballast Networks was chosen by the 5G Open Innovation Lab to design, manage and deploy the hardware for the Food Resiliency Project. We were responsible for all of the civil construction planning and delivery and were especially integral in switching the infrastructure and networking gear at both the Swans Trail and Albert’s Hay sites.

Along with the other members of the 5G Open Innovation Lab, we were able to contribute to the construction of two dependably 5G-based wireless networks that the farmers in Snohomish Country can use to run various wireless and cloud computing services. Through the use of Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), the Food Resiliency Project established an industry-leading 5G communications and edge computing platform for testing new applications, devices and services that would help the area’s farmers improve yield, labor efficiency and resource utilization.

Access to data and applications is the cornerstone for modern businesses, including the farming industry. By way of this project, Snohomish County’s agriculture trade now has the capability to lead exploration into sustainable, profitable and efficient farming production for generations to come.

For a more detailed look into the stories and journey to 5G in Snohomish County, watch our 5G Open Innovation Lab video.