We mostly visualize America as a leading innovator in military hardware and weapons. This is partly true because the US has an equally flamboyant agricultural sector as well. With rising world population and adverse effects of climate change coming to light, food security is an emerging global concern.
At the heart of any innovation or improvement lies high quality data that serves as a guiding torch. The positive outcome of any research will hinge on the quality and quantifiable attributes of the underlying data. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the US Agriculture Department has decided to move research data over to the cloud.
It is a huge initiative by the ARS involving about 2,000 scientists, 6,000 staff and 90 locations across USA. The idea is to deploy a network of sensors across these locations, collect data on key parameters and propagate this data on a unified cloud based network.
It’s not the case that any such data was previously not being collected. The problem was that this data was kept localized at each of the 90 odd locations across USA. Even if data was exchanged, it was done on the explicit request of the officials of any location.
The concerned staff at the location from where the data was sought would then collect the data, sort it as per requirement and relay the same either via email or mail. This was a highly resource intensive exercise and so localized that it was not producing the desired results.
The aggregated cloud network has been called AgCROS which is short for Agricultural Collaborative Research Outcomes System. Now, all the data collected from the 90 individual sites will be aggregated at this central cloud network called AgCROS.
Another commendable feature of AgCROS is that its access is not limited only to the ARS. This cloud database has also been made accessible for the faculty members and research students related to the agricultural sector. Further, recognized research papers that are published will also be made a part of the AgCROS cloud database.
AgCROS has been visualized to not only aggregate critical data at a single cloud network, but to leverage this data to further improve and innovate in the agricultural sector. Data is collected about various parameters such as wind speed, moisture, saturation, humidity and more.
The ARS is also developing a farmer friendly mobile application that will serve as a platform to guide and alert the farmers of any imminent threat. This will serve as a vital decision support system to not only maintain the agricultural yield but also exploit further opportunities for growth.