LONDON, Ohio — Ever want to climb into the cockpit of a plane and glide over a field? Or get an inside look at a beehive?
At this year’s Farm Science Review Sept. 21–23, visitors will have that chance without leaving the grassy ground under them.
The upcoming, annual farm trade show will offer a series of virtual reality experiences such as operating a crop duster, high-tech planters, combines, and other equipment.
Sitting in the iFarm Immersive Theatre, similar to an IMAX-type theater or planetarium, visitors to FSR can watch videos projected on a domed screen around them. They’ll get an expansive view—a bit wider than peripheral vision—so they can feel as if they’re flying a plane. Or riding a high-tech planter. Or peering into a beehive.
To film the videos, Ohio State University Extension educators mounted cameras to various spots on planters, tractors, combines, and other vehicles, so viewers can get a perspective they wouldn’t normally get.
“It’s a little bit like having a bug’s eye view of all of these places,” said Dr. Brooke Beam, Agriculture and Natural Resources/Community Development Extension Educator in Highland County. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), which hosts FSR.
One of the videos was taken by drones that flew over fields throughout the state to highlight the variety in Ohio agriculture: different crops, diverse soil types, and an assortment of terrain. Other topics include beekeeping, wildlife habitats, a variety of equipment demonstrations, and pigweed identification.
“Young people will find the technology really enthralling,” said Nick Zachrich, FSR manager. “But also, experienced farmers or producers will get a view they don’t normally get—a view of what someone else is doing. Then, they can see if it might be something useful for their own operations.”
Having an immersive theater experience is one of the new offerings at the upcoming, three-day FSR. Last year, the show was exclusively virtual as a result of the pandemic. This year’s show will be in person, but some talks and demonstrations will be livestreamed from the Molly Caren Agricultural Center near London, Ohio. And many of the talks will also be recorded so people can watch them online as well from their phones, tablets, or laptops.
A new marketplace pavilion will offer visitors a chance to try products that smaller businesses in food and agriculture are promoting, such as a dairy that might be starting a type of ice cream or a specialty cheese.
In its third year, FSR’s Career Exploration Fair will be both in person and online. On Sept. 22, the in-person career fair will be held from 10 a.m. to noon. During the same time frame on Sept. 24, people can go to fsr.osu.edu for a virtual opportunity to learn about careers in agriculture.
“Being able to be there on-site and part of a crowd will be very inviting to people,” Zachrich said of this year’s show. “It’s a good opportunity to get away from the farm for the day.”
FSR hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 21–22 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 23. Tickets for the event are $7 online and at OSU Extension office in Highland County office. Tickets are $10 at the gate. Children ages 5 and under are free. For tickets and more information about FSR, visit fsr.osu.edu. For more information about the iFarm Immersive Theatre or OSU Extension programming, contact the Highland County Extension office at 937-393-1918.