FFAR Awards $1 Million Grant to Accelerate Data-Driven Innovation in Agriculture

Purdue University Researchers Seek to Bring Collaborative Power of Open Source Software to Address Challenges in Food and Agriculture

A portion of the graduate students, staff, and faculty associated with Purdue’s new Open Ag Technology and Systems Center. From left to right: He Liu, Yang Wang, James Krogmeier, Andrew Balmos, Ryan Beasley, Yaguang Zhang, Sam Noel, Amy Reibman, Dennis Buckmaster, and Jaclyn Leeuw.

 

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a nonprofit established in the 2014 Farm Bill with bipartisan congressional support, awarded a $1 million Seeding Solutions grant to Purdue University, where researchers will develop community-based approaches to converting agricultural data and algorithms into actionable tools for farmers. The FFAR grant has been matched with funding from Winfield United, Centricity, AgGateway, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Purdue University for a total $2.1 million investment.

The goal of this project is to accelerate innovation by building a community of collaborators that can apply computer science and data analysis principles to agriculture. To demonstrate the process and capabilities of open source frameworks, the research team will apply these principles to projects in food system logistics, machinery, soil mapping, farm-level meteorology, and remote sensing.

“The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is proud to support research that will catalyze innovation in agriculture,” said Sally Rockey, executive director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. “This project demonstrates the critical need for collaboration to harness the power of data to solve food and agriculture challenges.”

Farmers are gathering data on millions of acres of active farmland, but much of that data is not being integrated into decision-making tools for farmers and researchers. Much of the data gathered and analyzed in public research to date are not easily accessible and the agriculture industry lacks a sufficiently trained workforce to take full advantage of the vast amounts of data available today.  This project aims to provide resources to help translate this wealth of data into real-world applications in agriculture through a community-driven, open source framework.

The research team is being led by Principal Investigator (PI) James Krogmeier, Ph.D., Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University. He and his team will conduct research on this project through Purdue’s Open Agricultural Technology and Systems (OATS) Center.

“The digital nature of the ag-food system from this point forward is clear,” said Krogmeier. “This Center’s activities, in addition to the research and outreach, will facilitate better graduates in the digital agriculture realm.”

Dennis Buckmaster, co-PI on the project and Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering says: “The blend of collaborators from different disciplines and the external stakeholders contributing to this project is a solemn reminder that the issues and problems we need to address are complex. It will require significant innovation and outreach to make the strides needed.”

Researchers on this project, “An Open Source Framework and Community for Sharing Data and Algorithms,” include:

  • Aaron Ault, Senior Research Engineer of Open Ag Technology and Systems Group at Purdue University
  • Larry Biehl, Systems Manager of Research Computing at Purdue University
  • Dennis Buckmaster, Ph.D., Assistant Dean and Associate Director of the Office of Academic Programs, Professor of Agricultural & Biological Engineering, and Dean’s Fellow for Digital Agriculture at Purdue University
  • James Camberato, Ph.D., Professor of Agronomy at Purdue University
  • Melba Crawford, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Engineering for Research, Professor of Agronomy, Civil Engineering, and Electrical & Computer Engineering at Purdue University
  • Amanda Deering, Ph.D., Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Food Sciences at Purdue University
  • Richard Grant, Ph.D., Professor of Agronomy at Purdue University
  • Haley Oliver, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Food Science at Purdue University
  • Amy Reibman, Ph.D., Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University
  • Dharmendra Saraswat, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Agricultural & Biological Engineering at Purdue University
  • Mark Tucker, Ph.D., Professor of Youth Development and Agricultural Education at Purdue University
  • Mark Ward, Ph.D., Professor of Statistics at Purdue University

This project is supported by FFAR through its Seeding Solutions grant program, which calls for bold, innovative, and potentially transformative research proposals in the Foundation’s seven Challenge Areas. This grant supports the Forging the Innovation Pathway to Sustainability Challenge Area, which aims to increase the production and accessibility of nutritious foods.

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