CORVALLIS, Ore. — A preowned tractor or plow used to be the go-to technology for the average farmer, but while that might still be true for some, agriculture has changed forever. Whether genetically modified crops that grow without any interference from pests, or mobile apps that a landowner can use to calculate the amount of grass available in his field, technology allows farmers to save time and money. Every farmer uses tech in their own way and it’s turned their pursuits into true businesses.

At the Corvallis Science Pub on Oct. 8, Chad Higgins will discuss the farms of the future and related technology in the fields. Higgins’ research explores the intersection of farming and technology. He is currently testing the idea that radio-frequency identification (RFID) devices, which are commonly used to track inventory in retail stores, can generate a round-the-clock, area wide picture of soil moisture. Such information could help fine tune planting and irrigation schedules. 

“The trend has always been to increase the efficiency, increase the productivity, increase the automation, increase the control,” says Higgins, associate professor in the Department of Biological and Ecological Engineering at Oregon State University. “I wonder if the end state is complete automation." 

Science Pub begins at 6 p.m. in the Old World Deli, 341 2nd St. in Corvallis and is free and open to the public. Due to the continuing popularity of Science Pub, attendance will be limited and advance registration will be required. Registration is available online or by calling University Events at 541-737-4717. People who arrive without a ticket are welcome but will not be admitted to the reserved seating area until 6 p.m.

Podcasts of previous Corvallis Science Pub events on topics such as the roadside geology of Oregon and the bond between people and dogs are available at

Sponsors of Science Pub include Terra magazine at OSU, the Downtown Corvallis Association and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.


College of Agricultural Sciences

About the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences: Through its world-class research on agriculture and food systems, natural resource management, rural economic development and human health, the College provides solutions to Oregon’s most pressing challenges and contributes to a sustainable environment and a prosperous future for Oregonians.

Story By: 

Ian Vorster, [email protected], 541-737-0783


Chad Higgins, [email protected], 541-737-2286

Click photos to see a full-size version. Right click and save image to download.