Farming’s future includes precision tech, smart use of ‘big data’

In the world of agriculture, having rich sources of data on field conditions, weather patterns, pests and other factors can make a big difference in the profitability and sustainability of farms.

That’s why OARDC-funded scientists are working with Ohio farmers, industry groups and state agencies to boost access to and analysis of field data gathered from new-generation farm machinery, satellite data and remote-sensing imagery captured by unmanned aerial vehicles (aka drones).

“Data can support farmers’ management decisions — for example, how much nitrogen should be applied to corn and whether or when a fungicide needs to be used,” said John Fulton, associate professor in CFAES’s Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering. “But all this enormous amount of data needs to be gathered and provided quickly for farmers to make the best use of it.”

“This enormous amount of data needs to be gathered and provided quickly for farmers to make the best use of it.”—John Fulton

Best ways to use, protect farm data

  • Fulton said a key goal of his research is to create a user-friendly data repository that growers can use to make decisions.
  • Ohio State, through the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, recently joined the national Agricultural Data Coalition, which is dedicated to helping farmers better control, manage and maximize the value of the data they collect every day in their fields.
  • The coalition’s goal is to build a national online repository where farmers can securely store and control the information collected by their tractors, harvesters, drones and other devices.
  • To contact the scientist: John Fulton at fulton.20@osu.edu.

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