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Research

A primary goal of the Center is to foster interdisciplinary research projects that bring together faculty across The Grainger College of Engineering, ACES and others on campus to address fundamental challenges at the frontiers of computing, engineering, agriculture and food. Seed funding is being provided to foster new collaborative teams interested in forming long-term research projects with stable external funding. Two initial projects of the Center—the Digital Farm Infrastructure and the Agriculture Data Collaboratory—are intended to simplify and facilitate multidisciplinary research projects for all faculty, staff and students. Anyone interested in using either of these in their research should contact CDA via email. Companies interested in contributing technologies, expertise or personnel to either of these projects are encouraged to contact us as well.

Seed Funding Awards

The Center for Digital Agriculture is a catalyst for collaborative research projects across engineering and agricultural disciplines. Leveraging the strong tradition of team building for large long-term interdisciplinary research and education projects at the University of Illinois, CDA offered a competitive seed-funding program for new collaborative projects spanning two or more of the Center’s initial themes: Automation, Data, Animals and Crops, and People. Seed funding awards up to $50,000 for one year were recently announced for 13 projects.

A second round of seed funding will be awarded next year. Those interested in applying should plan to attend the information meeting on December 6, 2019, for proposals due January 24, 2020.

Illinois Digital Farm Infrastructure

The Illinois Digital Farm Infrastructure will be a flexible and customizable IoT toolkit that simplifies creation of instrumented, networked, semi-automated, and cloud-backed facilities for experimental research and for large-scale on-farm field trials. The toolkit will enable faculty and students to perform sensor-driven experiments, develop and test equipment, monitor the environment, raise animals and plants for data-intensive experiments, and support large-scale on-farm experimentation.

The Digital Farm Infrastructure will provide customizable, open hardware and software designs that enable extensive use of sensing, wireless communication, edge computing, and automation. As a result, the infrastructure will enable collaborative projects bringing together engineering researchers interested in developing and evaluating cutting-edge technologies with agriculturalists, food scientists, and biologists interested in exploring novel applications of these technologies.

Digital Agriculture Data Collaboratory

The Digital Agriculture Data Collaboratory is a shared space located at the National Center for Supercomputer Applications (NCSA), where researchers from all disciplines in CDA will benefit from cutting-edge computer, networking, and visualization equipment, NCSA staff expertise, and synergy with other data-focused research projects. It will enable research in large-scale data storage, data sciences, and data-driven decision making for a wide range of problems.

The Digital Collaboratory will bring data science, machine learning, information retrieval, distributed systems, and high-end computing researchers together to explore applications of these technologies in agriculture, food sciences, genomics, and economic modeling and forecasting.

The collaboratory will also contribute to the NCSA data analytics service portfolio for its industry partners. CDA will partner closely with NCSA and the NCSA Industry Partners Program in developing the Digital Collaboratory resources and skills.

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