Why a tech giant teamed up with a small North Country farm

Published: Aug. 10, 2018 at 6:20 PM EDT
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"We're trying to save the world one farm at a time," said Mark Kimball of the Essex Farm.

The Essex Farm is a year-round one-stop shop.

"I just ate without it being cooked this great espresso corn. Best corn I ever had and I'm a corn lover, I get it everywhere I can," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York.

It's not the corn that drove the senator to the farm, but their forward-thinking.

"We realized that we also need to bring modern technology to understand how to connect all the different assets of the farm," Kimball said.

Don't let their horse-drawn wagon fool you; these farmers are trotting into the future.

"We're working with Essex Farm to pioneer wireless technology that leverage unused TV channels called TV white space," said Paul Garnett of Microsoft.

Microsoft is helping advance the farm into a more modern business, like adding broadband capabilities and sensors to help with the workload.

"By having Wi-Fi not just in a room of your house but through hundreds and hundreds of acres, so the farmers can communicate with each other. Sensors so you can see if a sheep or cow or crops are in some kind of trouble," Schumer said.

"We've flown drones over here to be able to see where fields were weak in fertility and it's kind of amazing," Kimball said. "You see it from here and it's gorgeous and you see it from on top and you might say, 'Hey, wait. The pumpkins aren't producing as much there.'"

A tech giant and a North Country farm-- not the pair you would expect to see intertwined but a pair the senator believes will be successful.

"I think it's a great marriage and I look forward to what's going to come from it," Schumer said.

This is still very new. Microsoft has been working with the Essex Farm to test out some of the sensors; none are permanent yet but they said this is the farming of the future.