UGA-Tifton Demonstration Lab to Fuel Innovation in Precision Agriculture

Jordan Powers

Wednesday, May 8th, 2024

With the global population expected to increase from 8 billion to 9.7 billion by 2050, agricultural researchers and producers are faced with the looming challenges of how to feed a growing world.

A key tool in the effort to propel Georgia’s No. 1 industry into the future is the expanding field of integrative precision agriculture (IPA).

At the University of Georgia Tifton campus, the new Tifton Integrative Precision Agriculture Research, Education and Demonstration Laboratory will be the first of its kind in the Southeast to provide state-of-the-art collaborative spaces, top-of-the-line autonomous equipment and job training for the next generation of agricultural leaders.  

Advancing integrative precision agriculture

The $3.03 million project will include a working lab, electronic labs and office spaces to increase collaboration among graduate students, scientists and industry. The 12,500-square-foot space previously served as the Tifton Rural Development Center before sitting vacant for nearly two decades.

Last month plans for the lab were signed through this year’s bipartisan government funding package, championed by Rep. Drew Ferguson (GA-03) and carried on the Senate side by Sen. Jon Ossoff and Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock.

“We are thrilled for this opportunity to demonstrate the latest technologies across Georgia's commodities,” said UGA-Tifton Assistant Dean Michael Toews. “These labs and collaborative spaces will be within walking distance to horticultural, row, turf and citrus plots, providing stakeholders the ability to see and test technologies for adoption on their farms.”

Driving innovation and outreach in Georgia’s largest industry 

Georgia’s agricultural size, breadth and multiple climate zones make it a natural center for agricultural technology development. UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) is working to advance precision agriculture across the state and nation through teaching, research and outreach. In spring 2022, the university established the Institute for Integrative Precision Agriculture to serve as a conduit to connect agricultural technology development within UGA and with outside partners like universities and agribusiness.

In Tifton, repurposing the Rural Development Center will allow CAES students and researchers to solve global agricultural issues such as targeted irrigation and meet the need to share advanced agricultural practices among rural communities.

“While CAES projects like the climate-smart 4-D Farm focus on research, this lab will highlight products that have already made it to market and are currently benefiting industry,” Toews said. “Beyond our students, researchers and industry partners, this demo lab will create pathways for outreach to Tift County — and rural areas across Georgia — as a whole.”

The Tifton Integrative Precision Agriculture Research, Education and Demonstration Laboratory is expected to begin construction in 2025.

Learn more about UGA’s efforts in Integrative Precision Agriculture at