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Big Data in Agriculture: Applications and Policy

Via Zoom 

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Rural Computing Research Consortium/Quello Center joint event.

Precision agriculture (PA) has aided farmers, researchers, and agricultural technology providers (ATPs) with feeding a growing population with finite resources. By using remote sensing and other data collecting techniques, farmers can more precisely apply their inputs to maximize their yield. ATPs collect input and output data from farmers and use artificial intelligence and machine learning to build prescription maps which farmers can program farm equipment to follow. The use of PA has allowed farmers to use less resources, which saves money and reduces environmental impact. However, technology is a two-sided coin, benefiting both end-users, the farmers, and ATPs differently. In agriculture, power asymmetry has been cited as a critical issue existing between farmers and ATPs and this impacts farmers negatively. In order for farmers to deploy and have more control over data decision making on their farms, AI assurance methods need to be integrated into their technologies. There are currently a few studies on this subject in agriculture, but many do not involve agricultural end-users or fall short of meeting the needs of the end-users. If end-users and policymakers are not able to understand how their data is collected and used in the agricultural AI models, they will not be able to make educated decisions about their work. This presentation proposes solutions to benefit all agricultural end-users, including prompting the use of participatory design and adopting more user-centered principles when integrating AI assurance models into agricultural technologies.


Dr. Brianna B. Posadas is an assistant professor in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech. She was previously a CRA Computing Innovation Fellow in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education also at Virginia Tech. Her research is focused on the intersection of agriculture, technology, and user-centered design. When she completed her PhD at the University of Florida, she was the first Latina to earn a doctorate from the department of Computer and Information Science and Engineering. Dr. Posadas also received her master of science in agricultural and biological engineering at UF and her bachelor of science in engineering from Harvey Mudd College.