Why Illinois Corn Growers Are Working With NASA

NASA will be supplying the data for an effort launched by the Illinois Corn Growers Association that aims to improve farm management throughout the Midwest.

The Illinois Corn Growers Association has a new collaboration in the works—and it has a NASA pedigree.

The Farmer Data Cooperative, which teams ICGA and its members with researchers at the University of Illinois, will use NASA datasets to help solve agricultural management inefficiencies, help uncover new areas to farm, and improve overall management of farms.

The approach will use high-tech data but will be structured like a traditional co-op, ICGA explained in a news release. However, there will be some differences. For example, farmers will offer their data into the cooperative and will receive cash compensation for doing so, and they’ll get other benefits such as access to technology enabled by the data.

In the release, ICGA Director of Water Quality Research Dr. Laura Gentry described the initiative as “an unprecedented opportunity for farmers to take the lead in shaping the future of agriculture by creating exactly the tools we need to better address critical issues such as land use efficiency, nutrient management and exploring new market opportunities.”

In a blog post describing the project, University of Illinois researcher Kaiyu Guan, who will lead the research endeavor, noted that the goal of the project will be to enroll 100 farmers throughout the state—30 from Northern Illinois, 40 from Central Illinois, and 30 from Southern Illinois. He added that he hopes the initiative will bring actionable lessons to farmers throughout the region.

“We aim to develop this project as an example to be scaled up to the whole U.S. Midwest and beyond of effectively using NASA satellite data for improving farming practices and US agricultural prosperity,” he said.

The initial crop of farmers for the endeavor will be pulled from an existing ICGA program, Precision Conservation Management, which uses technology to improve conservation efforts in farming.

(stevanovicigor/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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