For decades, the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) has directed Minnesota soybean checkoff dollars toward funding research projects, developing value-added uses and building markets.
This summer, the Council invested in augmented reality (AR) – which integrates digital content with the user’s environment – to make checkoff education and awareness interactive, fun and digital, especially for the next generation of farmers.
“Year after year, the Council brainstorms new and innovative ways to talk about the checkoff, its investments and overall impact,” said MSR&PC Director of Marketing Kristeena Thisius. “We see AR utilized across many industries – from entertainment like Snapchat to online retail shopping. There’s no doubt this type of technology is becoming more and more popular, especially with the younger generation, so it only made sense to find a way to utilize AR to showcase current checkoff-funded projects and its impact on tomorrow’s farmers. What better way than to create a persona of two future farmers to tell that story?”
Debuted at Farmfest, AR future farmer avatars Paul and Sandy guided visitors through different checkoff investment areas in MSR&PC’s tent, explaining the impact that today’s investments have on their farm. For example, when booth attendees visited the “New Markets” table, Sandy appeared on the table after scanning the QR code and explained how checkoff investments in international exports have increased the demand for her soybeans.
“Farmfest is all about engaging with attendees,” said MSR&PC Chair Tom Frisch. “When visitors scanned the QR code and Paul or Sandy popped up in our booth, everyone – from kids to grandparents – got excited. Investing in AR has been a great way to highlight all the ways the checkoff is securing a solid foundation for tomorrow’s farmers.”
This AR technology is a long-term investment that will be used in multiple settings throughout the next year. Organized soybean counties will be able to use the digital tool at local events, such as county fairs, annual meetings and plot days. MSR&PC will implement the technology at Big Iron, MN AG EXPO and highlight the future farmers on social media and other digital channels.
Soybean Business magazine, the official publication of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, will also feature a checkoff series, allowing readers to learn from Paul and Sandy from the comfort of their own homes. The series begins in the magazine’s September-October edition.
“To see and hear future farmers Sandy and Paul, all you need is a specific QR code and smartphone,” Thisius said. “There is no physical equipment or devices needed, meaning this digital tool can be utilized in numerous places at once. This made AR even more attractive as we continue to promote our current checkoff efforts across the entire state.”
With AR, the Council is putting a fresh twist on education that engages multiple generations. And, as always, MSR&PC is planting for the future and ensuring that today’s investments benefit tomorrow’s farmers.
How it works
To view future farmers Sandy and Paul and learn about specific checkoff projects and how they’re impacting tomorrow’s farmers, scan the below QR codes with your smartphone camera.
Click “accept” to allow the technology to gain access to your camera and microphone. Be sure your sound is on and turned up.