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article imageFarmers are turning to big data to adapt to climate change

By Tim Sandle     Mar 15, 2020 in Environment
Climate change, especially global heating affecting farmers and causing problems both for growing crops and with animal husbandry. A new study shows how the use of big data can aid farmers in meeting the challenges from climate variation.
The study, which hails from Michigan State University, demonstrates how gathering data in relation to quantified soil and landscape features together with spatial and temporal yield variations, can provide meaningful insights into what is occurring with climate variability and with the formulating of strategies to respond to such changes.
The mathematical approach, which fed into computer algorithms developed for the project, considered the interaction between topography, weather and soil, and found that processing data in relation to these variables helped provide the basis for an accurate predictive model of farm-related climate variation.
By using big data analytics, the research team were able to assess critical farming data, such as the percentage of every single corn or soybean field in the Midwest that could be prone to either water excess (due to heavy rainfall) or water deficit (due to drought).
This type of information helps farmers plan everything from crop rotation strategies to varying the types of fertilizer used in response to the amount of water expected within the soil.
According to lead researcher Professor Bruno Basso: “We are primarily concerned with helping farmers see their fields in a new manner, helping them make better decisions to improve yield, reduce cost and improve environmental impact.”
One climate-related area affecting farming is with the production of methane gas, where there is an association with farm animals (especially cows). Methane is a gas that is said to contribute to around half of human-made global warming. One research study has demonstrated that it is possible to reduce global warming through the implementation of technology that can limit methane release to the atmosphere.
One such technology is through the use of an electric field, operated at low temperatures. This process captures methane in a way that does not contribute to global heating and uses this to generate heat and electricity, as a means of reducing dependency upon fossil fuels.
The research is published in the journal Scientific Reports, in paper headed: “Unstable crop yields reveal opportunities for site-specific adaptations to climate variability.”
More about big data, data analytics, Farming, Farmers, Climate change
 
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