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OUR VIEW: A farm for our region to notice

A North Dakota farm some 260-plus miles northeast of Mitchell should be grabbing the attention of South Dakotans.

And, it is especially of interest to anyone involved in Forward 2040, a community vision and strategic action plan in hopes of bettering the city of Mitchell within the next 20 years.

In Horace, N.D., a farm of the future is beginning to take shape with autonomous ag-vehicle research and technology development. The futuristic farming project drew the attention of U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, who was on hand during its April 27 ribbon-cutting event.

An artist's rendering of the farm shows in-flight drones, autonomous tractors, a wind turbine and makerspaces — a sort-of building used for hands-on creativity where people can prototype different farming applications. Officials involved say there are millions of dollars in capital investment and thousands of people involved to get the project going.

It's a significant undertaking, but it's one Mitchell needs to consider as well.

With agriculture as our state's top industry, we need to invest in it. Farms have been advancing with technology since day one, and this is just another leap forward that's certainly coming.

During a March 25 Think Tank in Mitchell that served as the starting point for Forward 2040, city leaders discussed scenarios and ways to utilize the resources we have impact our future. One significant resource in the Upper Midwest is the ability to grow food to feed the continuously growing world population.

Much like how farming has changed from 1969 to 2019, it will likely change dramatically again in the next 50 years. Our region will have an advantage with the ability to plant and harvest food, but we need to capitalize on that as much as possible to make Mitchell a successful community for years to come.

Think of the technological advancements students from Mitchell Technical Institute and South Dakota State University could make on a farm like the one in Horace. Not only is the agricultural land available here, but we have years of farming knowledge and young people who are eager to advance it.

A new-age farm could draw more ag-tech students to Mitchell and bring production facilities here to build autonomous tractors and drones. The possibilities are endless, really.

As we continue to think about what's next for Mitchell through the community visioning process, agriculture has to be one of the biggest factors in the discussion.

Agriculture impacts everyone here, which is why we need to seriously look at this new farm in North Dakota as an example of what would make Mitchell successful for the future.