Purdue logo
Digital Ag Newsletter Header May

October 2022

Dean's Fellow Welcome

We had a great Digital Ag Showcase on September 8. Thanks go to many who coordinated, presented, attended. In the photos here we hope you get a sense of the energy and impact of the day. Topics included irrigation/fertigation with drainage water recycling, UAV applications, digital tools for farmers, sensors, and a lunch session including a farmer panel related to solution* adoption. We’re already planning for 2023 because we cannot possibly cover all the great work in one day! Stay tuned for dates. If you want to participate, let me know directly at DigitalAg@purdue.edu

Digital Ag Showcase Collage
(Outside photos by Tom Campbell, Purdue Ag Communication)

*What is “solution adoption”? Well, I used that phrase specifically because we generally use technology adoption. But why? We really need to shift our focus from developing technology to developing solutions (which can of course involve technology). If we offer solutions, then adoption will more naturally come. Ponder that. 
What have you been able to learn from someone outside your discipline lately? Over the past few weeks, we had some very productive discussions toward a climate-aware farm of the future proposal (yes, whew!, it was submitted on time). Large groups like this are difficult to convene and sometimes we had to back up and revisit previous conversations because the group grew. But in the end, I believe we all learned something. My take-away was that maybe I make too many assumptions. Such as … 
  • I may assume people know certain things that they do not – and that is through no fault of their own, they just haven’t had the opportunity or need to learn more.
  • Doing a particular thing or a particular experiment is simple when it is not. 
  • The cost of doing something isn’t expensive when it really is. 
  • I am (or knowledge I have is) needed when that is not true. 
My challenge to you … stretch yourself, get involved in more interdisciplinary work. It brings challenges of its own kind but also rewards you will appreciate. 

Dennis Buckmaster

Research Spotlight

At the Showcase, Dr. Jian Jin of ABE demonstrated his ASABE 2021 Davidson Prize award winning LeafSpec at ACRE and his more recent developments. In case you missed the showcase, check out the LeafSpec video and one about the PhenoBee – a drone-based robot for proximal phenotyping and another regarding the PhenoVacBot

Jian Jin's Leafspec
(PhenoVacBot precisely and autonomously scanning a target leaf.)

Dr. Dave Cappelleri’s work on crop monitoring, leaf detection, and physical sampling were also on display. You can catch up on the progress here:

Extension Spotlight

UAV Pilot Training Programs in November

Anyone interested in becoming a commercial Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) remote pilot may be interested in the upcoming November training programs. Programs will be in Madison County on November 17-18 and Shelby County on November 29-30. Topics include: 
  • UAV Introduction 
  • Camera Settings 
  • Sensors and Artificial Intelligence 
  • FAA Part 107 Test Preparation 
  • Flight Plans & Record Keeping 
  • Free Flight Instructions 
  • Planned Flight Instructions 
  • Use of third-party applications/processing software 
  • Data management 
  • Image Quality & Troubleshooting 
  • Emergency Preparation 

Student Spotlight

Digital Ag Hackathons for Students

We’re a little late in reporting this, but several Purdue students were amidst 14 students from 4 institutions for an inaugural digital ag hackathon at the ASABE meeting in Houston this summer.

Purdue Team at ASABE Hackathon
Winning “Mobile Food Sourcing” team of Prateek Mondan, Steven Doyle, Megan Low (centered in front) amidst the hackathon sponsors. 

Special thanks to Dr. Ankita Raturi (ABE) and Aaron Ault (ECE) for spearheading this event. The event was funded by NIFA’s Higher Education Challenge Grant program under a project led by Dr. Dharmendra Saraswat (ABE). 

Northern Illinois University’s Office of Innovation will be hosting a hackathon for students 18 and over on November 5-6th, 2022 on the DeKalb campus. The overarching theme is Sustainability with an emphasis on the future of food systems and their challenges. They have invited students from around the Midwest region to form multidisciplinary teams of 4 to 6 members to take a crack at solving problem sets focused on those challenges. There is no cost to register, and winning project ideas will receive exciting prizes!  

Huskie Hack

This isn’t a traditional hackathon that just focuses on coding, but one that focuses on solution-based ideas. Students from all disciplines will be asked to explore the topic, understand the problem sets, and use the knowledge and expertise from industry and university mentors and specialists before pitching their solutions to the judges. Learn more at the Huskie Hack website.


Data Mine at Purdue Active on Ag Projects

The Data Mine of Purdue University, led by Dr. Mark Daniel Ward, is very active in agricultural topics! Of 675 total students, nearly one-fourth of them (162) are working on agricultural topics. Here’s a highlight of their work:

  • Bayer is coordinating projects on the Prediction of Climate Change Impact on Crops, and on Yield Prediction through ML.
  • Beck’s Hybrids is working with students on Stand Counts of Corn Plants. 
  • We have a new project this year with Co-Alliance on Marketing Insights with Customer Profiles. 
  • Elanco is working on Computer vision-aided pet detection and diagnostic tools.
  • IntelinAir is offering a new project with Data Mine students on Monitoring Forest and Waterbody Health from Remote Sensing Imagery. 
  • John Deere is coordinating projects on Crop Variety Text Classification and also on Identifying Wildlife Conservation Opportunities with Farmland. 
  • The Mara Elephant Project is working on Data Driven Elephant Conservation. 
  • The USDA US Forest Service continues to work with our students on Forest Inventory and Analysis. 
  • Webee has four projects with The Data Mine this year, including one on Smart Irrigation and another one on Energy and Sustainability Monitoring. 
For more information about these and other projects: https://projects.the-examples-book.com/companies/ 


We want to share your good news!

We would love to promote student defense events related to data science and digital agriculture. Just provide this information and we’ll include it in upcoming newsletters.
  • Student name and department
  • Thesis title or topic
  • Advisor & committee member names
  • Date, time, location
We would also welcome an opportunity to promote completed work. If you had a student recently graduate with a data-driven agriculture theme, send us the author information, thesis title, and URL for us to include in an upcoming edition of this newsletter.  

Course/Curricula Spotlight

A quick reminder...

Please tell your students about the “10-week summer camp on data science for agriculture”. This program gets rave reviews and is a good alternative to internships. Applications are due March 6, 2023.  
If you have a data-oriented program and want to recruit students, let us know and we will include it here. 
At last count, there were only 11 students from 6 different majors in the College of Agriculture pursuing the Certificate in Applications of Data Science. Let’s try to grow that because the industry is clamoring for these skills as a complement to the agricultural science know-how.

Upcoming Events

We still have 4 Data-Driven Seminars this semester co-sponsored by Integrated Digital Forestry Initiative, Institute for Plant Sciences and Digital Agriculture. 
Learn more at https://ag.purdue.edu/digitalag/seminars/index.html

Data Driven Seminars

The American Chemical Society is holding a meeting and exposition in Indianapolis, March 26-30. The title is "Innovative Technologies to Support 21st Century Agriculture." Learn more via this flyer and the website.

Monthly Miscellaneous

There seems to be Data about Everything

There seems to be data about everything. Some useful, some trivial, and a lot we may not understand.

As we have transitioned into fall and you may be looking for some wonderful colors, I think you’ll enjoy this data source…Fall Colors Report. It also offers an opportunity for you to contribute (crowd sourcing!!). 
To get you primed, here is a photo I (Dennis) just took last week along my driveway. Nothing fancy, but it is pleasant, don’t you think? 

Fall Foliage

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

Find past issues of the Digital Agriculture Newsletter here.

Know someone outside of the Purdue  College of Agriculture who would be interested in this newsletter? Have them sign up at https://ag.purdue.edu/digitalag/digital-agriculture-newsletter.html