Agriculture and Computer Science – A Growing Collaboration

By Mike Weaver

@weavermike

Mike Weaver

If I were to say “agriculture,” I’d be willing to guess that the first thing to come to mind isn’t “computer science.” After all, food production and software haven’t traditionally been a duo that most consumers correlate with each other. However, as the IT director of product development at Monsanto, pairing computer science with agriculture is part of the innovative and exciting work that my teams and I do every day.

For the past several years, the impact of computer science within the agriculture industry has taken off. And there’s no sign of that integration slowing down. I lead teams that develop software that brings efficiency, automation, and analytics to all aspects of the Monsanto pipeline – from discovery R&D to our production supply chain, and to how we better engage and connect with our customers. The end results are better products and more informed choices for our farmer customers.

For example, when our research scientists plant trials to see how our seed performs in the field, our technology makes recommendations on where to plant for the best outcomes. Throughout the season, our mobile tools and smart devices collect data on what is being planted, where it’s being planted, and how it’s being managed.

Then, during harvest, our technology streams and analyzes yield data directly from the combine. This software-enabled modern agriculture is essential to meet the challenges of producing enough food with fewer resources to feed a growing population.

Every year, we see an increase in the amount of data that can be consumed and utilized to make these decisions. This now includes satellite imagery, soil and weather data, and it’s what excites me the most. Software and data science are no longer just supporting tools. They’re at the core of every decision we make.

In the coming years, our ability to leverage technology to help farmers will only increase. Our digital innovations will not only help us produce better products for our grower customers, but our digital tools themselves provide a template for our customers to also use data science and the Internet of Things to optimize their farms. The work we are doing is truly innovative and the tools and technology we are using are state-of-the-art. I look forward to the advancements we will continue to make. Not every computer scientist can say they’re helping to feed the world.


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