» Ag-Analytics opens branch in Convergence Center, encouraging collaboration

DIGITAL AGRICULTURE

Ag-Analytics opens branch in Convergence Center, encouraging collaboration

Story by Chad Campbell

Photos by Tom Campbell

September 2, 2020

"D

igital agriculture and data science are important tools for our farmers in Indiana,” said Karen Plaut, the Glenn W. Sample Dean of the College of Agriculture. “We look forward to finding opportunities for our researchers, Extension specialists and students to collaborate with Ag-Analytics as they join us on campus as part of the Convergence Center.”

A recent addition to Purdue’s Discovery Park District, the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration serves as a “front door” to companies seeking to work with Purdue. The 145,000 square-foot building offers modern workspaces adjacent to campus.

Convergence Center

“Companies including Beck’s and Bayer already have spaces in the Convergence Center,” noted Bernie Engel, associate dean of agricultural research and graduate education. “It’s great to have companies that are interested in agriculture connecting here at Purdue.”

Six years after he founded Ag-Analytics in New York, CEO Joshua Woodard decided to open a new branch in Indiana. His company provides advanced analytics to growers through their profit mapping and artificial intelligence product, Profit Layers. The company also offers on-demand UAV services.

“This is certainly a wonderful time to be in agriculture,” said Dennis Buckmaster, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering and dean’s fellow for digital agriculture.  “Untapped potential in data sets and streams is becoming increasingly common. We’re currently in this realm where people who have a lot of data don’t have the data science skills, software or time to learn from it. Therein lies the potential of artificial intelligence.”

Dennis Buckmaster
Dennis Buckmaster

To help, Ag-Analytics combines public data from sources such as NASA and the United States Geological Survey with users’ precision agricultural data. Ag-Analytics then runs it through machine-learning models and other algorithms to provide intelligent forecasting and prediction tools. They present the resulting information through data visualization, an output focused on user-friendliness and simplicity.

Dan Dawes, senior director for strategy and innovation for AgriNovus Indiana, has begun introducing Ag-Analytics to local businesspeople and resources. “Indiana is a very business-friendly environment,” said Dawes. “From the perspective of an agtech company, we have a wide variety of strong companies in place that provide an opportunity for startups to accelerate their growth.”

“One area of potential collaboration is through the work we are doing with the Wabash Heartland Innovation Network (WHIN) to make the 10-county region around Purdue’s West Lafayette campus the epicenter for next-generation manufacturing and digital agriculture,” noted Plaut.

Convergene Center

WHIN works to fuel prosperity in the area by harnessing the power of Internet-enabled sensors. WHIN plans to build upon agriculture, manufacturing and engineering while focusing on the region’s sense of community and low cost of living.

“Another thing companies like about West Lafayette is access to the talent at Purdue University,” said Dawes. “There are plenty of good reasons to consider the region, but being in such close proximity to potential interns, staff and research partners is valuable.”

"Digital agriculture is an area of emphasis for the College of Agriculture, and data science is a priority for the university,” explained Engel. “Ag-Analytics is really in that sweet spot. They are looking at and analyzing big data to help make improved decisions in the agricultural production and agribusiness spaces. As a result, it is fantastic to have them located at Purdue in the Convergence Center.”

Bernie Engel
Bernie Engel (Right)

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