Unlocking the Agricultural Data Revolution

September 24, 2020 – September 25, 2020

In September 2020, FFAR and partners are hosting a virtual event to discuss data ownership and data privacy.  The two-day session includes panels, networking and a student competition as well as a call to action.  This event is open to the many people who work in agriculture and food and those interested in data and innovative research across disciplines:

  • Farmers
  • Researchers
  • Private companies
  • NGOs
  • Government agencies
  • And others!


This event builds upon the Agricultural Data Privacy meeting, held in San Antonio in November 2019, that kicked off the broader effort and collaboration. Below are links to recorded sessions that frame the conversation:


In advance of this virtual event, there will be four webinars discussing agricultural data privacy, how organizations are stepping up to the challenge and what is at stake for farmers and beyond.  To continue the conversation post-event, there will be two follow-up webinars in October 2020.

1. Community Call to Action: What do we need to Unlock the Ag Data Revolution?

Speakers: Shefali Mehta, Ankita Raturi, Kevin Silverstein
July 30, 2020 12:00 – 1:00 pm ET

2. Retrospective on the 2019 Data Privacy Panel

Speakers: Mike Komp, LaKisha Odom, James Wilgenbusch
August 13, 2020 12:00 – 1:00 pm ET

3. Farmers’ Perspectives on Agricultural Data & Decision Making

Speakers: Aaron Ault, Dorn Cox, Meredith Ellis
August 27, 2020 12:00 – 1:00 pm ET

4. Ag Tech Answering the Farmers’ Needs

Karen Hildebrand, WW Tech Leader, Agriculture at Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Wade Kent, Global Digital Agronomy Development Lead, Syngenta
Abhinaya Konduru, Associate, M25
Billy Tiller, Co-Founder and CEO, Grower Information Services Cooperative (GiSC)
Bryan Runck, Adjunct Assistant Professor & Research Associate, University of Minnesota
Ali Joglekar, Adjunct Assistant Professor & Research Associate, University of Minnesota
Ansu Chatterjee, Professor, University of Minnesota
September 10, 2020  3:00 – 4:00 pm ET

5. FFAR and USFRA: Introducing the Agriculture Climate Partnership and a Call to Action

Speakers: LaKisha Odom, Amanda Raster and others TBD
Date and Time TBD

6. FFAR Data Strategy and Policy Discussion

Speakers: Rashada Alexander, Julie Reynes
Date and Time TBD

Planning Committee

This virtual event and related activities are organized by a diverse planning committee crossing academia, research and nonprofit sectors: Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research (FFAR), Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC), OpenTEAM, Purdue OATS alongside the hosts, the Institute of Research in Statistics (IRSA), GEMS and the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute (MSI) at the University of Minnesota.  This working team has been collaborating since August 2019 with the data privacy convening and the subsequent, broader September 2020 event.  The working team is building an effort that stretches beyond these events to develop sustaining solutions and actions to impact the ag data space.


Members of the Planning Committee:

Ansu Chatterjee, PhD, IRSA, co-chair

Shefali Mehta, PhD, Open Rivers, co-chair

Amanda Schwartz, IRSA

Ali Joglekar, PhD, UMN GEMS

Kevin Silverstein, PhD, UMN GEMS and MSI

LaKisha Odom, PhD, FFAR

Lauren Winstel, FFAR

Dorn Cox, PhD, OpenTEAM

Ankita Raturi, PhD, Purdue OATS

Dennis Buckmaster, PhD, Purdue OATS

Mike Komp, CTIC

Additional Support Staff from UMN School of Statistics: Matthew Dangel, Madelyn Dunski, Taylor Utterberg, Taryn Verley, Kelsey Willems


The following organizations came together to advance the agricultural data area and bring their unique expertise and missions to this effort.

The Institute for Research on Statistics and its Applications (IRSA)

IRSA organizes interdisciplinary events, offers essential training and produces cutting-edge research on relevant and significant topics intersecting data science and statistics. Its programs promote effective, trustworthy data science methodology and convene experts that span diverse sectors and industries in order to foster creative problem solving and collaboration.

GEMS Agroinformatics Initiative

GEMS shepherds and facilitates the sharing of data across private and public spaces, focusing on the interoperability of data in the agricultural domain. Private agricultural researchers are particularly mindful of the security of their data and preservation of IP. So in order to tap private data for public use, fully open frameworks may not suffice. We hope to enable public researchers to tap private data in their research projects while preserving private IP.

Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR)

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research is a nonprofit organization mandated to develop public private partnerships to tackle the intractable and transformative issues in Agriculture. FFAR pioneers scientific exploration, expanding the frontiers of food and agriculture research to develop solutions that benefit farmers and consumers. We believe that data use, data privacy, data value and data ownership all represent research gaps/white spaces that are ripe spaces for partnership and innovation and we believe by addressing these challenges together, we have the opportunity to improve both sustainability of our lands and profitability of our farmers and ranchers.


Open team is an open technology ecosystem of tools and communities for agricultural management. The aim is to 1) connect parts of the ecosystem in order to make site specific data driven decisions at the farm level and to 2) create value from data by making it available for use in lots of systems. The ecosystem should be open source, but data is secure, private and valuable. Ag data ownership is a key concern

Purdue Oats

The Purdue Open Ag Technology and Systems Center is focusing on open source tools and devices to improve the interoperability throughout the ag data pipeline (from origination to decisions and including reuse). We recognize that private and public data comes from a wide variety of sources and is stored in a variety of platforms that need to work together for data to truly deliver on its promise. We have technical focus, but are aware of the cultural implications and hope to influence policy.

Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC)

Bringing technology to agricultural conservation domains and push boundaries (with remote sensing, machine learning, IOT) and to be a bridge between government agencies, NGOs and industry partners. Interested in providing new, valuable information for farmers that is not the same as what has been done in the past.

Open Rivers

Open Rivers Consulting Associates is a strategy and implementation consulting firm specializing in agricultural, environment and technology.  Open Rivers was launched with the belief that there is a way to do better, for the environment, the species that live in it and for our communities, organizations and their employees. We work with clients and collaborators to find a more robust path to grow and evolve while maintaining our values and without destroying the very elements that make us human and connect us to this planet. Therefore, Open Rivers has a strong commitment to preserve this earth and to support the many people working tirelessly to find solutions to the world’s greatest challenges.  Robust and efficient data access and usage are critical to decision-making and finding sustainable solutions in agriculture.

Questions?  Contact LaKisha Odom of FFAR at lodom@foundationfar.org or Shefali Mehta of Open Rivers Consulting Associates at shefali@open-rivers.com

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