SOAR Oregon, a nonprofit organization focused on the development of the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) industry in Oregon, has announced a grant award to the City of Pendleton for the establishment of the Oregon UAS FutureFarm project at the UAS test range in Pendleton.
To be established in June, the Oregon UAS FutureFarm will be a real-world testing ground designed to help digital agriculture pioneers accelerate product development, reduce cycles and expand market growth. It includes a 14,000-square-mile test range certified by the Federal Aviation Administration, agricultural zones, multi-layered remote sensing tools, and a community of farmers and industry partners.
“The Oregon UAS FutureFarm is open to UAS developers, sensor makers, robotics companies, universities and any others who are looking for a real-world digital agriculture proving ground that is supported by a collaborative, innovation-focused community,” says Jeff Lorton, project manager for Oregon UAS FutureFarm.
FutureFarm features a network of farmers growing a variety of irrigated and dry-land crops in both traditional and modern farming infrastructures. Strategic partners include the City of Pendleton, Digital Harvest, SOAR Oregon, Blue Mountain Community College, Oregon State University and the USDA Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Center.
“We are pleased to be supporting the Oregon UAS FutureFarm as both a partner and user,” notes Young Kim, CEO of Digital Harvest. “The fact that the test range includes high-value tree fruit orchards, premium wine grape vineyards, hundreds of automated irrigated plots, and hundreds of thousands of acres of dry land farms makes it a unique and special zone.”
Steve Chrisman, Pendleton’s director of economic development, adds, “The FutureFarm represents what we’d hoped the Pendleton UAS Range could become – not just an environment for the development of technology, but the place where real-world questions could be solved with unmanned aircraft. We are excited about the potential of this project to develop solutions which benefit growers across the Northwest.”
Photo: Pendleton Mayor Phil Houk (right) signs the FutureFarm grant agreement with SOAR Oregon. SOAR Oregon’s John Stevens (front left), Roundup City Development Corp.’s Mike Short (back left), and Pendleton UAS Range’s Steve Chrisman (back right) were on hand to witness the signing.