University to host May 10-12 conference on creating national ag data network

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University to host May 10-12 conference on creating national ag data network

Photo composite of supercomputers at work in Nebraska's Schorr Center work (left) and combines harvesting wheat in Perkins County, Nebraska (right).

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln will host a three-day conference to foster discussion and hone ideas for creating a network of national ag data repositories. The inaugural conference, which will focus on creating a strategic framework for agricultural cyberinfrastructure, will be May 10-12 at Nebraska Innovation Campus.

Ben Craker, portfolio manager at the global nonprofit AgGateway and president of the Ag Data Coalition, will be the keynote speaker for a Heuermann Lecture to open the conference. AgGateway works with companies to develop standards to solve digital challenges. The theme for Craker’s address, and for an accompanying panel discussion, will be “The Next Generation of Farm Reporting.”

Ben Craker

The panel members are Tom Eickhoff, chief science officer leading the Science organization at Climate, and digital farming at Bayer Crop Science; Amy Winstead, vice president of business innovation and agronomy for GreenPoint Ag Holdings; Cynthia Parr, assistant chief data officer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Research, Education and Economics Mission Area; and Graham Plastow, professor of livestock genomics and CEO of Livestock Gentec at the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science at the University of Alberta.

Tom Eickhoff

The conference will include presentations by project leaders for the USDA-funded initiative to create a national ag data network, known as the National Agricultural Producers Data Cooperative. Smaller group discussions will develop ideas for the planned national data framework, which is intended to end the current disconnect among the range of ag-data platforms. The resulting data network is intended to be accessible, secure and supported through compatible software platforms across the ag-tech industry.

Amy Winstead

The conference is open to the public. Attendees, including for the Heuermann Lecture, must register. Details on the conference agenda and registration are available here.

The small group discussions at the conference will focus on policy, law and ethical considerations for data governance; data stewardship; cybersecurity and access control; advanced cyberinfrastructure; analytics and decision tools; critical pilot studies/use cases; education, training and workforce development; and sustainability.

Cynthia Parr

Grants from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture are funding the ag data initiative. Representatives from NAPDC, NIFA, other federal agencies and stakeholder groups will be on hand to gather input from producers.

A set of Husker faculty members is in the forefront of leading the ag data initiative, which involves a wide range of universities and stakeholder organizations. Jennifer L. Clarke, professor of statistics and food science and technology and director of the university’s Quantitative Life Sciences Initiative, has a lead role in the project.

Graham Plastow

Additional Husker faculty members with key duties for the ag data initiative are Joe Luck, precision agriculture and biological systems engineering; Laura Thompson, ag extension and farm research; Matt Spangler, beef genetics; Scout Calvert, University Libraries; Hongfeng Yu, advanced cyberinfrastructure and high-performance computing; and Trenton Franz, hydrology and water management.

NIFA has tasked the collaborative initiative to develop a framework for national cyberinfrastructure to increase production and drive innovation in agriculture. The project will support producers’ real-world needs and enable data-driven decision-making.

Critical partner organizations include the Ag Data Coalition, AgGateway, the Open Ag Data Alliance, the USDA National Animal Germplasm Program, the Center for Advanced Innovation in Agriculture at Virginia Tech, MarketMaker, Clemson University and the Bovine Genome Database.

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