CALS Contemplates the Role of Drones in Agriculture

Recognizing the needs of the modern farmer, The Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences,  has called together a task force dedicated to engaging multiple departments in digital agriculture.

Drone hovers over a cornfield

A drone hovers over a cornfield. Courtesy of Cornell University.

The digital ag initiative refers to using data systems to optimize food production and, finding technological solutions for farming problems. Cornell Initiative for Digital Agriculture (CIDA) is an interdisciplinary team dedicated to improving food production through the use of robotics and data collection. Launched in 2018, CIDA represents Cornell’s role in this burgeoning field according to Provost Michael Kotlikoff

“Digital agriculture continues to blossom rapidly across academic and research fields, and there is no university as uniquely positioned as Cornell to help meet the world’s food system needs,” Provost Kotlikoff said in a Cornell Chronicle article.

While this initiative is relatively new, the idea of using big data and technology within our food system is not. Precision agriculture has been on the rise, including innovations like drone flyovers to manage cropping systems, and microchipped livestock to monitor herd health. Led by Susan McCouch, Ph.D. ’90, CIDA is a way to organize, fund, and increase participation in digital agriculture making it a university-wide interdisciplinary team.

These efforts help bridge the gap between researchers and practitioners, bringing technological solutions to farmers in the area. Practices developed by the CIDA team are already being trialed on the Musgrave Research Farm in Aurora, NY. With large scale collaboration comes large scale innovation. Read the full article on Cornell CALS or the Cornell Chronicle.

Anna Birn

Anna Birn is a junior studying Agricultural Science with a minor in Community Food Systems. She works as a student assistant at the Cornell Small Farms Program, supporting its communications and outreach efforts.
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