The Midwest is home to some of the most productive agricultural systems in the nation, and many local, regional and national economies and populations are deeply dependent on the health of this system.

Land owners, producers, agribusinesses, government and other entities have access to an increasing large and complex arrays of spatiotemporal information about land and agriculture, derived from real-time sensor data streams, aerial imagery, survey data, and predications from management and policy simulation models.

With growing volumes of data, the potential is vast for improved understanding of plant and animal food systems and their potential to impact on the economy, environment, and society more broadly. They also offer the potential to address the challenging array of forces in agroecosystems, such as balancing productivity and sustainability and of developing robust responses to increasing uncertainty under global climate change.

While the potential is great, our ability to leverage these resources is constrained by lack of 1) tools and resources to support appropriate integration and use of data, 2) a broader infrastructure for sharing and collaborating on data-driven projects, and 3) approaches to data ownership and policies to support confidentiality and proprietary information.


The Digital Agriculture Community is devoted to building partnerships and resources that will address emerging issues in:

  • Precision agriculture (e.g., high resolution information about crop fields, novel sensor development to measure environmental conditions and inform management);
  • Ecosystem management and services (e.g., in relation to the nexus of water, energy, arable land; energy, carbon, and nutrient cycling; water quality; impacts of climate on crop/livestock production);
  • Biosciences (e.g., predictive phenomics, synthetic biology, systems biology);
  • Socio-economic impacts (e.g., agricultural economics, producer-level decision making in relation to conservation, rural well being, policy, supplying energy and food); and
  • Specific data-related issues in the agricultural ecosystem (e.g., better integration of agricultural data streams, improved collaboration among data owners, addressing barriers in sharing data such as protecting propriety and confidential information).

Initial Activities

To plan the goals and initial activities of the Digital Agriculture Community, we will:

  • Convene a steering group with representatives from interested institutions and organizations from diverse sectors
  • Develop a plan that outlines the spoke’s goals, structure, supporting activities and resources, and proposals to be pursued
  • Plan a partnership building workshop, to be held in May 2016


Joe Colletti, Iowa State University
Iowa State University

Grant McGimpsey
University of North Dakota

Jennifer Clarke
University of Nebraska