NMSY Researchers Utilize Big Data to Drive the Future of Agriculture
Sat, April 17, 2021

NMSY Researchers Utilize Big Data to Drive the Future of Agriculture

Researchers at NMSU are set to tackle issues plaguing the agriculture sector / Photo Credit: MONOPOLY919 (via Shutterstock)


Researchers at New Mexico State University in the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Science are trying to solve an array of challenges ranging from monitoring livestock behavior to developing AI for agriculture using big data, according to Carlos Andres Lopez of La Cruces Sun News, a daily newspaper in New Mexico. 

“With the world’s population expected to grow to more than 9 billion by 2050, there is an urgent need to produce more food on less land with less water and fewer inputs,” explained Natalie Goldberg, who is the interim associate dean of College of ACES and director of the Agricultural Experiment Station. Collecting large volumes of data is a reality. With big data science, it can move that data to machine learning, data analysis, robotics, etc. Implementing big data into agriculture will help address the sector’s “most complex problems,” Goldberg added. 

Department of Animal and Range Science professor Derek Bailey uses GTs tracking and other sensors “to monitor the welfare, productivity, and sustainability of cattle and sheep on rangelands.” Bailey stated, “We combine these on-animal sensors with satellite imagery to simultaneously monitor forage resources and livestock behavior.” His goal is to utilize the aforementioned technologies to create “precision livestock management” systems, an approach that requires collecting, analyzing, and processing large data sets. In the future, he hopes to use drones to gather data.  

Department of Animal and Range Science’s professor Lara Prihodko studies large data sets in her research on regional and global-scale ecology. “Our data sets include large geospatial and climate data, such as optical and radar satellite imagery and global climate re-analyses,” Prihodko stated. Data volumes have increased significantly as satellite systems become more developed. Hence, Prihodko and her team rely on big data analysis techniques, high-performance computers, and cloud computing to process and analyze data. 

While there are other faculty members who utilize big data and supercomputing, the College of ACES has started to develop solutions to the problems that the agricultural sector is facing, College of ACES Dean Rolando Flores said.