University participating in digital agriculture project

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University participating in digital agriculture project

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is partnering with the University of North Dakota, Iowa State University and Kansas State University on a digital agriculture project funded by a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

The grant aims to foster collaboration among Midwestern agricultural and big data constituencies. The Midwest Big Data Hub Digital Agriculture Spoke will help build partnerships to address emerging issues, such as precision agriculture, ecosystem management and services, socio-economic impacts and specific data-related issues.

“This project is important because working with big data can be very costly, so it’s critical to recognize shared challenges on a national level so we can share insights and resources,” said Jennifer L. Clarke, director of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Quantitative Life Sciences Initiative and associate professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology and Department of Statistics. “The collaborations that result from this project will enable us to leverage big data to solve critical challenges related to sustainable agriculture and food security.”

Clarke will lead Nebraska’s efforts on with the project, which focuses initially on two knowledge domains important to agriculture: unmanned aircraft systems and plant sciences. Automating big data lifecycles in unmanned aircraft systems in agriculture, plant sciences, phenomics and genomics is a key objective for the team. Information sharing, education and training at all levels will also be a priority.

The NSF awarded $10 million total to 10 “big data spokes” to initiate research on specific topics identified by the Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs. Project topics range from precision agriculture to smart cities to personalized education. The data spokes reflect the unique priorities and capabilities of the four big data hubs, which represent consortia from the Midwest, Northeast, South and West of the country.

“The big data spokes advance the goals and regional priorities of each big data hub, fusing the strengths of a range of institutions and investigators and applying them to problems that affect the communities and populations within their regions,” said Jim Kurose, assistant director of the NSF’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate. “We are pleased to be making this substantial investment today to accelerate the nation’s big data R&D innovation ecosystem.”

The title of the University of North Dakota-led project is “Digital Agriculture: Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Plant Sciences and Education.”

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