MSU researchers pioneer big data approaches to water, fertilizer and climate change

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MSU is spreading the seeds of big data to improve agricultural practices thanks to a $4.9 million USDA grant. (view larger image)

Through a $4.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a team led by Michigan State University (MSU) researchers will develop big-data approaches to better manage water and fertilizers and to adapt to changes brought on by climate variability.

“Our research shows the interactions between soil, crop, climate, hydrology and agricultural management, and determines their effects on crop yield and the environment,” said Bruno Basso, MSU AgBioResearch ecosystems scientist and associate professor in the Department of Geological Sciences. “This project links science with technology and big data analytics; we aim to help farmers better adapt to temperature extremes, droughts or excess water in fields so that they can make better decisions for the environment and maximize production and/or profits.”

Using high-tech tool such as the System Approach for Land-Use Sustainability model, unmanned aerial vehicles and multipectral cameras, thermal cameras and laser scanners, the team evaluate the effects of crop rotations, planting dates, irrigation and fertilizer use and project crop yields and their impact on the land and the environment, both now and in future projections.

The project team also includes MSU AgBioResearch scientists Jeff Andresen and Phil Robertson, as well as fellow MSU researchers David Hyndman, Anthony Kendall, Joyce Parker, Jane Rice and Jinhua Zhao. Other external partners include Jerry Hatfield, USDA-ARS Lab for Agriculture and the Environment, Iowa; Jim Butler, Kansas Geological Survey; Nick Brozovic, University of Nebraska; and Jonathan Winter, Dartmouth University.

For the full story, please visit MSU Today.

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