Cornell is the only Ivy League and Land-Grant university with a strong mission to educate and support agricultural communities in New York and the world via programs that create new knowledge and new practices. These programs address existing and emergent problems and opportunities via research, teaching and outreach activities that extend research beyond campus. The combined passions and talents of Cornell’s world-renowned researchers manifest in transformational knowledge, technologies and a new generation of leaders and educational outreach and extension services.
The DA effort at Cornell catalyzes, coordinates and supports science, technology development, education and networking. Through the synergistic work of faculty, staff and students from among Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Engineering, Computing and Information Sciences, the College of Veterinary Medicine and the S.C. Johnson College of Business, Cornell leads responsible DA and creation of disruptive innovations that couple agro-ecologies, computing, artificial intelligence and machine learning, robotics and humans. Over 70 professors partnered to draft a 40-page extended white paper that defines a research agenda for DA and builds a unique pipeline of discovery and innovations that create cross-discipline, cross-college curriculum and cross-research interactions for the next decade and beyond.
Cornell Initiative for Digital Agriculture (CIDA) strives to serve the public good and well-being of a broad range of stakeholders, including large and small farms, domestic and international activities and within variously scaled food systems. CIDA pursues its initiatives through cooperation, communication and collaboration with public and private partners, remains inclusive of stakeholders, and highlights social, ecological and environmental challenges. Within Cornell University, CIDA trains future generations of students to be innovators and leaders across the scientific, technical and social dimensions of agriculture. CIDA aligns with global community partners to produce and apply knowledge and aligns with the vision of Engaged Cornell, an initiative to create opportunities for research, teaching and learning at home and around the world.
As a world leader in digital agriculture, CIDA will do the following:
1. Catalyze and support multidisciplinary research to enable input providers, producers, processors and distributors to sustainably meet consumer needs. More broadly, we seek to develop tools and strategies to enhance governance of agrifood systems. Support will include research venture funds, core research support services and the capacity to support development of complex research proposals for external funding. Three broad research themes will be pursued:
a. SYSTEMS ANALYTICS uses advanced computing approaches to organize and examine large data sets and draw conclusions about the information they contain. It provides a framework to connect and integrate all hardware and software components within DA.
b. DIGITAL INNOVATIONS are used to measure and manage key agricultural processes. Digital tools and devices are developed for sensing and automating agricultural activities at a range of scales, i.e., molecular and cellular; organismal; field, barn and controlled environment; ecosystem; distribution network; and market.
c. DISCOVERY AND DESIGN delivers new knowledge about fundamental mechanisms and processes that determine how biological organisms grow and respond to environment or how ecosystems evolve. This knowledge provides the basis for designing reliable and scalable solutions to improve our food systems, accelerating the development of climate-ready crop varieties; ecologically sustainable management systems for plants, animals and microbes; economically viable farm to table opportunities; and landscape-level systems designs.
2. Train future researchers, educators and workers who will develop the science and technology of digital agriculture and integrate these tools and designs into our food systems. CIDA will do the following:
a. Provide one- or two-year recruitment fellowships for graduate work in digital agriculture.
b. Provide two-year postdoctoral fellowships to recruit talented young scientists to work in multidisciplinary teams.
c. Provide support for recent Ph.D. graduates and postdocs to take a deep dive into commercialization of inventions generated through their research.
d. Provide resources and expertise to support development of new DA courses to be delivered within existing educational programs.
3. Forge partnerships to identify research needs and opportunities, extend research capacity and collaborate to transfer and implement new knowledge and technologies to stakeholders. To realize responsible innovation, Cornell will do the following:
a. Develop partnerships with corporations, foundations, civil society organizations and public agencies whose goals for digital agriculture align with Cornell’s.
b. Host corporate and civil society leaders for sabbaticals at Cornell University to partner with faculty on DA research. Non-academic leaders will offer diverse perspectives and experiences to faculty and students, and create novel opportunities for research and development partnerships.
c. Engage with Cornell Cooperative Extension to identify the needs of New York growers and producers and to implement new tools and technologies.
d. Develop and implement outreach programming targeted at K-12 education to help build a pipeline of future leaders in DA with the necessary preparation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).