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NSF Grant Aims to Use Big Data to Improve Crops


Using consumer point-and-shoot cameras to collect time-lapse videos of maize plants growing at Iowa State University.

Washington State University researchers have received a 3-year, $1.2 million grant to help biologists sift through large amounts of data on plant traits and the environment, to improve their understanding of the interaction between genes and the environment in order to create better corn crops.

Credit: Patrick S. Schnable

Researchers at Washington State University (WSU) have received a $1.2-million U.S. National Science Foundation grant to help biologists analyze large datasets on plant traits and the environment to improve crop management.

The team will focus on improving the understanding of the interaction between genes and the environment to create better corn crops.

They obtained corn data from fields in Nebraska and Kansas, where scientists were studying two similar varieties of corn. The researchers took photos every few minutes to study growth indicators, and they also collected data for each of the thousands of plants on more than 20 variables that impact crop growth.

The researchers found one corn variety was growing at the same rate in both locations, while the second variety grew differently in Kansas.

"This will usher in a new era where biologists can use interactive, informative, and intuitive tools to spearhead data-driven hypothesis extraction and discovery," says WSU professor Ananth Kalyanaraman.

From WSU News
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