The British consortium 5G RuralDorset has announced that it has expanded its partnership with Qualcomm, a leader in semiconductor technology, in an effort to explore the highly anticipated mmWave spectrum for the creation of new farming use cases.
The trials will use the latest Qualcomm microchips in tandem with the 26GHz spectrum, taking advantage of the spectrum’s increased capacity compared to current 5G frequencies in order to test the quick transfer of a massive amount of data. Theoretically, this might enable “per plant” farming, with autonomous robots collecting data on individual plants and taking automatic action to improve crop health and yield.
“Intelligent teams of robots which can spot weeds and destroy them naturally have the potential to increase yields by 200% and reduce the need for harmful herbicides and chemicals by up to 95%,” explained Dave Happy, 5G RuralDorset spectrum and security lead.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will fund the new research in conjunction with Qualcomm at the Dorset Innovation Park as part of a larger $5 million investment in Dorset county.
“Whether it’s saving lives at sea, smart farming, or improving ambulance response times, our £5m funding has put Dorset at the forefront of cutting-edge trials in how 5G technology can truly benefit people and businesses,” said Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez.
The UK’s communications regulator Ofcom is currently in the process of planning its mmWave spectrum auction, with its overview anticipated to be released sometime in the third quarter of this year.
As part of the Future of Food initiative, 5G RuralDorset has previously conducted numerous trials in agriculture and aquaculture, including crop spraying drones and livestock monitoring sensors. This new relationship with Qualcomm expands on that experience.
5G RuralDorset enjoys a good reputation for its creative approach to 5G use cases. Last year, the project took home three trophies at the Connected Britain Awards, including the 5G Initiative award – in part for their innovative work in developing the world’s first 5G-connected agricultural robots.