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Topcon Agriculture, Kansas State Expand Partnership to Advance Precision Agriculture
For the past two years, Topcon Agriculture and Kansas State University have been working together on various projects. Yet, both wanted a deeper, multifaceted partnership that would differentiate the typical vendor and university relationship.
Although the pair recently signed a master agreement to develop tools and systems to advance precision agriculture, the company saw larger possibilities in an expanded collaboration. Facilitated by the Kansas State University for Commercialization, a new Topcon Agriculture Research Campus will establish a precision agriculture classroom with state-of-the-art equipment to train faculty, students, and customers to incorporate technology into farming and agricultural practices. In addition, the university’s Agronomy North Farm will receive a donation from the company for improvements to its technology infrastructure and equipment, which will streamline access to future upgrades.
“This strategic partnership will boost our R&D technology advancement to accelerate the commercialization of farmer-driven innovation,” says Fabio Isaia, CEO of Topcon Agriculture.
The Kansas Advantage
The state’s striking variations in environmental conditions, says Brian Sorbe, make it a unique place to test ag technology. “The highly variable soil and rainfall patterns across the state allow it to emulate multiple types of growing environments,” says the Topcon Agriculture vice president of sales and marketing, North America. “This makes Kansas ideal for conducting precision agriculture research to develop products for the entire country.”
Working with K-State Research and Extension, Topcon Agriculture will have a streamlined pathway from concept creation to on-farm use and education.
The partnership, says Richard Myers, Kansas State University president, demonstrates the commitment of both the company and the university to supporting Kansas agriculture through innovation.
“The Topcon Agriculture Research Campus will help us ensure that we are preparing our students and providing producers with cutting-edge equipment and knowledge,” Myers says. “We know the Kansas economy depends on the success of agriculture, and we are proud to unveil a partnership that will help our institution support the industry.”
Co-location with the university helps Topcon Agriculture recruit students and graduates to work for the company in the U.S. or abroad. It also demonstrates the success of area efforts to bring knowledge-based jobs and growth to the local economy.
“Topcon Agriculture is a global company that sees value in what we have here in Manhattan,” says Lyle Butler, president of the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce. “Our shared university-community economic development vision has helped us provide incredible facilities and promote Manhattan as an optimal location for a growing business.”
Beyond Manhattan, partnership with Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus and K-State Research and Extension will help Topcon Agriculture conduct on-farm research around the state. The university and K-State Research and Extension offer facilities and access to producers and collaboration at all phases of the product development process — from the drawing board to in-field deployment of precision agriculture technologies.