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CyberSEES:Type2:Collaborative Research: SmartFarm - Research and Education for Sustainable Agriculture Practices

Investigators
Liu, Bo
Institutions
California Polytechnic State University
Start date
2015
End date
2018
Objective

Ecological sustainability depends critically on the ability of world food production to manage increasingly limited natural resources (such as arable land and water) with new techniques that both enhance environmental stewardship and increase farm productivity. To make agriculture more productive and the productivity gains sustainable, growers are increasingly turning to environmental sensor measurement, data acquisition, and data analysis. To date, however, these tools have failed to achieve widespread use by smallholder agricultural concerns. Importantly, individual growers and ranchers are underserved by many recent advances in the commercial and research sectors that make data analytics consumable as simple "black box" end-user products. Current decision support offerings for these constituencies are variously limited, proprietary, complex, costly, require that growers relinquish control over their data, or are not widely available. This project therefore investigates a comprehensive research, educational, and outreach program called SmartFarm, which couples new scientific research in computer science, agronomics, and precision agriculture with novel outreach and educational pathways that enable our youth and communities to transform and ensure agriculture sustainability. The research will bring new computing technologies to growers that are easy to use, facilitate data privacy and control, and enable farm-focused, data-driven analysis and decision support that helps growers increase their yields sustainably. In addition, the educational and outreach plans will introduce technically adept youth, who are increasingly ecologically conscious, to the challenges and rewards associated with computer science and precision agricultural science so that they are adequately prepared and inspired to participate in the global challenge of increasing sustainable food production.

To address the problem of sustainable food security and food safety, this project investigates unifying cyberinfrastructure and agriculture analytics to enable precision, agronomics-driven farming by individual growers unlike what is available today. The proposed system, called SmartFarm, integrates disparate environmental sensor technologies into a customized, open-source, cloud-based data appliance with new analytics that provide growers with a secure, easy to use, low-cost data analysis and decision support system. Using open-source private cloud platforms, this data appliance can be hosted at a range of scales including personal, private clouds on-farm, large-scale public clouds, or in some combination of the two. The research program will facilitate new knowledge in: (i) multi-analytic agricultural applications for farm control, dynamic decision support, and emergency response; (ii) self-managing, extensible private cloud systems; (iii) robust sensing and data acquisition techniques, application programming interfaces, and processing engines tailored to the needs of farmers and ranchers; and (iv) private and hybrid cloud software architectures for precision farming that are code and data compatible with public cloud industry standards. The outreach and education efforts will expose students to cross-disciplinary research and educational activities that train them as new agronomists in new technologists in precision agricultural.

Funding Source
United States Nat'l. Science Fndn.
Project source
View this project
Project number
1539570
Categories
Education and Training
Parasites
Natural Toxins
Viruses and Prions
Bacterial Pathogens
Chemical Contaminants
Food Defense and Integrity