The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign received a $3.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund a technological and regenerative operation dubbed the “Farm of the Future.”

The farm partners a University of Illinois research center and two institutions specializing in crop production, livestock production and technology. The Illinois Farming and Regenerative Management “I-Farm” is a three-year operation in an 80-acre plot that will use robotic systems in cover-crop planting, weeding and input application. The farm technology will additionally monitor the health of plants and livestock.

“We will accelerate creation, maturation, and adoption of new management technologies that are fundamentally more sustainable, profitable, affordable, and scale neutral," Girish Chowdhary, an associate professor at the University of Illinois, said in a statement. "The new practices will be enabled by maturing digital agriculture technologies developed in wide-ranging research efforts at the University of Illinois.”

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The program is designed to use data taken from the operation to improve precision agriculture for farmers. This data will be utilized by an Industry and a Farmer Advisory Board to benefit the agricultural industry.

“Together, this integrated suite of solutions will lead to sustainable ways of meeting growing demand for agriculture in a changing climate,” said Madhu Khanna, the interim director of the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment and a distinguished professor at the college. 

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