Agriculture has become expert at collecting data but continues to fall short of the economic and environmental promise the information bonanza represents. The Sustainability Ag Research Action Team (SARAT) of the National Corn Growers Association has made integrating and managing the wealth of information coming from the farm a priority for 2021.
“Farmers have a ton of data on everything from fertilizer performance to machinery efficiency, but it remains difficult to link it all together in a way that makes sense,” said Randy DeSutter, SARAT chairman. “If farmers can integrate it all together on their own farm so it aids decision-making, then the potential can be realized to become more efficient and more profitable.”
DeSutter is confident information management will only become more powerful in managing machinery, hybrid selection, input timing and overall farm management. However, integrating data from outside the farm is also critical such as in the research field.
He cites the volume of information from phenotyping research as a good example. Determining plant traits and analyzing them creates a lot of data, he said, but the process of collecting, disseminating, and getting it to growers in a useful format will require some standardization.
SARAT will also be launching a Research Ambassadors Program in 2021 geared toward linking researchers directly with farmers. The goal is to establish a network of farmers and researchers with a strong appreciation for challenges on the farm and the kind of research solutions that are necessary.
After the success of the Nourish the Future program in 2020, NCGA will be expanding the initiative with the help of farmer‑funded state corn checkoff programs across the U.S. The program provides excellent teaching resources that have become even more important as teachers tackle online education.
The mission is to teach the ag-based curriculum in the science classroom, inspire students to solve real-world science issues, and inspiring students to fill the job gap in agriculture-related careers, many of which go unfilled.