ABAC’s New 4-D Farm Striving to Advance Agriculture

Tifton, GA

With farmers now faced with the unenviable task of producing more with less, efficiency is key for the long-term success of agriculture in the US. That’s why projects like the 4-D farm on ABAC’s campus are more important than ever, as it provides a testing ground for the latest practices and technology.

“So, the 4-D farm is a decision and data driven demonstration farm where we put in practices that have been developed at these sites, research sites through UGA that get implemented here at ABAC on our actual demonstration farm so that we can test them in a production setting,” says Alex McLemore, Associate Professor at ABAC.

Unlike many testing sites, this farm will not just focus on certain crops, but an entire cycle of them year-round. That type of diversity is designed to give the most accurate picture possible for the growers on their operation and how they can become more efficient.

“By putting them into a full farm production setting, we’re actually looking at a, like a full farm instead of just one individual crop. It allows us to look at this kind of futuristic as well as climate smart applications and how they can save money, reduce fuel, all those different things that kind of help them out on their farm. Just in general, we want to do everything we can to become more climate smart. You use less fuel. So, you can end up saving money. It allows you to put you to money elsewhere and expand and it can also help you conserve your resources, which means you have less inputs and stuff like that. So, it’s really a very wholistic, not just one single entity, but really building upon itself,” says McLemore.

Recently, this project received a four-million-dollar grant from USDA, which will provide the most up to date equipment and technology.

“So, that money is going to go towards personnel, data collection, AI type systems, artificial intelligence as well as just kind of the products needed to put in at the farm, updating some of our irrigation equipment so we really have some of that state of the art, industry standard new technology and stuff like that,” says McLemore.

They won’t have to wait long to see some return on their investment, as this new demonstration farm is set to open in the next couple of months.

“The project starts in September. We’re really going to get really heavy into the data collection component of it so that we can step into the decision part of that data driven demonstration. Starting September, we’ll start harvesting that corn that’s in the background and we’ll start getting data off that and we’ll be looking into our soils and thinking about our crops for the next four years or so,” says McLemore.

The future is what this operation is all about as it combines research efforts from UGA and Clemson with the practical application on a state-of-the-art farm, to keep the agricultural industry moving forward.

“The overall goal is to just make farming more robust and more climate smart here in Georgia and beyond and to demonstrate and show what can be done of all the great work that’s happening over at UGA and all of our educational stuff here at ABAC and how we can expand upon what we are currently doing and just demonstrate how we can take things from the past, put them into the future and really be resilient on these farms,” says McLemore.