MSU professor to speak at national agriculture summitFriday, October 7, 2016
By: Sarah Buckleitner
A Mississippi State faculty member will speak at the U.S.D.A. National Institutes of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Data Science in Agriculture Summit on Monday [Oct. 10] in Rosemont, Illinois.
Keith Coble, head of MSU's Department of Agricultural Economics, was invited to delve into the future of data in agriculture in a speech on data challenges as perceived by the public.
Because of the vast quantity of data being collected in agriculture, Coble sees producer privacy as one of the largest challenges to overcome.
"We have data coming from the machinery the farmer uses, data collected by the government and data in the private sector. And there are real challenges in the storage and proper handling of this data due to legitimate privacy concerns. However, there are technological solutions that can protect privacy and allow research to progress," Coble explained.
This huge influx of data in modern agriculture is largely thanks to precision agriculture, which has made it possible to collect data on a very fine scale. Data collection in agriculture will enable producers to find the most streamlined way to produce food—which is usually correlated with being cheaper and more environmentally-friendly.
"We're able to analyze at a much more granular level. With precision agriculture, we won't just know the information about the farm or the field. We're going to know things about that field down to the square foot. By examining the differences, we can learn about the most efficient ways to produce food," Coble said.
Coble is an expert on this topic; he is the lead author of a white paper for the Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics which investigates the topic of big data in agriculture, as well as proposing research goals and priorities for publicly funded research. He conducts research through the university's Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.
He also is a board member of the Agricultural Data Coalition, which brings together producer groups, universities and private firms to help producers manage their farm data.
Coble's talk will be given among other leaders in the field, including Harvard University Professor of Economics Richard Freeman and Vice President for Global Academic & Research Relations of Elsevier Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski. The summit keynote address will be given by NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy.