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December 2022

Dean's Fellow Welcome

I suppose we all have different memories of reunions whether fond, crazy, or tension-filled. Most of mine are fond and I hope yours are, too. For some crazy reason, this engineer got a little communication-minded a couple months ago and I arranged a reunion of our Research and Extension Experiential Learning program for Undergrads (REEU...try to say "REEU reunion" a few times quickly!).

It was a virtual event and we invited past participants from our 2019, 2021, and 2022 cohorts of this 10-week “summer camp on data science in agriculture” to gather and reflect on the experience, share current student or employment status, and give some feedback on the program. Honestly, it was one of the most fun work-related events, whether virtual or in-person, that I have ever had.

These former students shared some of their since-then stories of how they do data things in their studies or in their work. They related that to the on-ramp we gave them and explained how this opened doors and served as background motivation for the next endeavors in their journey. They also gave some very constructive feedback on program refinements – but in a manner that is much more meaningful than an end-of-program survey because they have a fuller context for what they know and don’t know.

My encouragement to you is this…think of some groups, whether small- or medium-sized, that you have influenced over time. Maybe it is club members or officers, a summer program you held, maybe even groups of graduates that you might reconvene. Depending on the size, you might want to group by a “chunk” of years (maybe 3, 5, 10). Our session was fabulous with about 15 participants in a 75-minute session. I think you will find such an event to be enjoyable as well as encouraging. But this is my suggestion…remember it is primarily for and about them – for them to reflect and develop more and deeper connections.

Dennis Buckmaster

Research Spotlights

Technology Adoption in Specialty Crops Industry

Dr. Ariana Torres has a joint appointment in Horticulture and Landscape Architecture and Agricultural Economics at Purdue. Check out this recent publication regarding technology adoption:

Torres, A. 2022. Exploring the adoption of technologies among beginning farmers in the specialty crops industry. Agricultural Finance Review 82(3):538-558.

Context. Although there is an abundance of literature focusing on factors affecting the adoption of agricultural technologies, very few studies have directly addressed beginning farmers (farmers with 10 years or less of experience), and studies focusing on specialty crops operations in the US are even less common.

Key findings. Farmers’ characterization suggests that, on average, beginning farmers are more likely to adopt growing technologies than more experienced farmers. However, after controlling for other determinants of adoption, there is no significant difference between the two groups. Lastly, results suggest that beginning farmers are more likely to adopt value added technologies relative to experienced farmers.

Extension Spotlight

Purdue DIAL Ventures

Purdue DIAL Ventures
isn’t actually Cooperative Extension, but as Dean Dr. Karen Plaut explained, it operates much like Extension by listening and researching to find out what problems need to be solved, then facilitating a solution. For that reason, I am including this item under the Extension Spotlight section.

DIAL just recently launched its first startup, Croft, to streamline the H-2A Visa seasonal labor program. DIAL also held a pitch event this last month, and we will see over the coming months which of those challenges might be addressed by new companies. Here’s the recap of the Fall 2022 pitch day.

Is there an app for that?

With a little tongue-in-cheek, maybe we need an app to find apps. It isn’t an app itself, but we do have a tool/listing here. It is impossible to have something like this perfectly up to date, so we welcome your assistance in keeping this fresh. Take a look and you will see that GoogleSheet lists price, source, and operating system; and the apps are labeled by categories so you can sort and filter to find what you wish.

Student Spotlight

Purdue DIAL Ventures
 held a fall Ideation Challenge for students. You can read about it here. The team of Tushar Sonvani and Brady Wyniemko proposed "Land Lease Relationship Management" and the team of Josh Bailey, Cheyenne Simmons, Harsh Pathak, and Samiul Basir proposed "Farm Inventory Management." Congrats to the undergraduate and graduate students for their visions of digital solutions!

Course/Curricula Spotlight

At the recent College of Agriculture faculty meeting, Dr. Diane Wang's new course, AGRY42000, Computing for the Natural Sciences, was approved. Watch for it in upcoming fall semesters. The catalog description is: 

Basic programming, problem solving, data visualization and communication in the context of agriculture and natural science research using R. Topics include iteration, functions, vectors, strings, algorithms, graphics and reproducible reports in R. This course is appropriate for undergraduates with a curiosity in computing fundamentals and interest in working with research data, especially those potentially applying to graduate school. Also appropriate for graduate students, researchers or other professionals who desire an introduction to programming with R. NO programming experience is necessary. This is not a statistics course; having had introductory statistics and some background coursework in agricultural or other natural sciences is expected.

Upcoming Events

We just ended our Fall Data-Driven Seminar Series and are planning for an upcoming Spring series. The Spring series will be held in hybrid format and recorded.

If you are interested in attending these, please hold Thursdays from 12:30 to 1:30p ET on your calendars. More details coming soon!

Click here to access the full set of past seminar recordings.

Monthly Miscellaneous

Monthly Miscellaneous Treasure - Free Resources

Red button with Free written on itMy favorite price is free. Even with inflation at high levels, a large percentage increase in the price doesn’t affect free! Hopefully you know of “free” resources available to you through Libraries (automatically accessible when on-campus or via BoilerKey login when off-campus). If you have favorites, I welcome your introduction to them. 
Available to all the world, via my favorite Land Grant institution, are many publications out of the Purdue University Extension Education Store. Not all publications in the Store are free, but you’ll find many shorter practical documents that are free. There are also pointers to many educational videos.

Of particular relevance this time of year...

Selecting an Indiana-Grown Christmas Tree. You may be wondering what the connection is to Digital Agriculture. Well, this publication includes Table 1 Characteristics of Indiana Grown Trees which is data. If you want to select your tree in a data-driven manner, take a look and learn a little more about this special class of evergreens.
Did you know?

All publications from Springer are free to @Purdue folks via SpringerLink. I am not trying to promote this to the exclusion of others, but below are a few titles to whet your appetite. Use your favorite search terms to find some gifts for this holiday season! I’ll be honest, I didn’t read all of all of these, but I did glance enough to know there are some good nuggets there that perhaps you can use as resources or additional reading in some of your courses or for your own benefit.

Digital Agriculture. 2021, Queiroz et al. 

Handbook, Digital Farming. 2022, Dörr and Nachtmann. 

Data Science in Agriculture and Natural Resources Management. 2022. Reddy et al. 

Sensing Approaches for Precision Agriculture. 2021. Kerry and Escolà, eds.

If you have an idea for a Monthly Teaser or Miscellaneous item, we welcome your contribution!