technology

A new federally funded project led by Iowa State University researchers will help farmers share data relevant to their operations with one another and improve production.

The Smart Integrated Farm Network for Rural Agricultural Communities (SIRAC) project recently received a three-year, nearly $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop technology that will allow farmers to pool data and share knowledge to guide responses to production obstacles such as weeds, disease and pests. The effort will start out as a small pilot project and gradually expand to hundreds of farmers. The multidisciplinary research team will pair innovative data gathering methods with machine learning to make the information easily accessible to farmers in the program, said Asheesh Singh, a professor of agronomy at Iowa State and principal investigator on the grant.

Have you ever walked by agronomy hall and looked up and noticed some strange equipment on the roof? It isn't for decoration and it isn't top secret.

The roof houses several weather stations and labs. "The actual answer is the roof contains two automated weather stations that take data at one-minute intervals. The variables measured are temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, wind speed, wind direction, mean sea-level pressure, solar radiation, and UV index," Associate Teaching Professor Dave Flory said.

Data from the weather stations is both stored and made available through the Department of Agronomy's Iowa Environmental Mesonet. The following link makes data available to students and anyone interested in what's going on outside: https://mesonet.agron.iastate.edu/other/

In addition to the automated weather stations, the roof also houses the meteorology program's instrumentation laboratory.

By Ellen Bombella, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications Service

Ken Moore led the development of a distance education program in agronomy 19 years ago and this year he received the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Distance Education in Teaching Award for his hard work.

There have been a lot of changes in technology since Moore started the program. One of the first roadblocks was the students' ability to access the internet. When the program began in 1998, it was very expensive for students to use the internet and online courses were not common.

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