Indiana corn and soybean farmers have made a large commitment to the automated plant phenotyping research and education facility now under construction at the Purdue University Agronomy Center for Research and Education. Indiana Soybean Alliance and the Indiana Corn Marketing Council, the state’s corn and soybean checkoff groups, pledged a total of $4 million on Monday.
“These remarkable investments will allow us to realize the vision of the automated phenotyping center and it will be named by our farmers in the next few months,” said Karen Plaut, senior associate dean for research and faculty affairs in the College of Agriculture. “This facility, unlike others, is surrounded by 1,500 acres of crops. That’s so we can couple crop production with our latest innovations. It’s designed to make sure Indiana farmers have access not only to the ag scientists at Purdue, but also the brightest minds in engineering, computer science, aviation technology and other disciplines.”
ISA is donating $1 million for equipment for the new facility, while Indiana Corn Marketing Council is providing $1 million toward the actual construction. Both organizations will also place $1 million into two endowments to fund in perpetuity corn and soybean research related to plant phenotyping and technology innovation.
These are significant investment decisions not taken lightly by the boards of ISA and ICMC. Denny Maple of Howard County is the corn president.
Dave Lowe of Blackford and Jay Counties said the ISA board that he oversees ultimately felt the support for plant phenotyping, identifying and measuring plant characteristics, was the right decision to make.
“Our board struggled on the investment of $2 million for the phenotyping center. We put our heads together with Purdue, as we should, and decided this was the right thing to do, probably not for us and those my age, but for my grandson who is 15, my granddaughter who is 14, and for my 3 little guys that are less than 5.”
Purdue president Mitch Daniels expressed profound thanks to both organizations from the Purdue family.
“For Denny and Dave’s members, and yes those grandchildren, yours and mine and everybody else’s, this is absolutely an enormous step forward to provide them a better future,” he said.
***Listen here to the entire ceremony, emceed by Purdue Dean of the College of Agriculture Jay Akridge:IN Corn and Soy phenotyping ceremony
The facility is expected to open in the spring as part of the plant sciences initiative which falls under Purdue Moves, a series of university initiatives announced by Daniels in 2013 to broaden Purdue’s global impact and enhance educational opportunities for its students.
“The commitment that Indiana’s corn and soybean farmers have shown through these two organizations supports a facility that is a fundamental part of the university’s long-term strategy to advance research and education in plant sciences,” Daniels said. “It will help both today’s and tomorrow’s scientists at Purdue discover more ways to help the world meet an increasing demand for food as the population grows rapidly.”
Farmers will benefit from path-breaking research at the phenotyping facility.
The facility, to be the only one of its kind at a U.S. university, will serve as a catalyst and hub, bringing together multidisciplinary teams of faculty and students to develop innovative technologies in agriculture. Phenomics data on crops grown at the agronomy center will be gathered from high-tech equipment above, on and under the ground and transferred by fiber-optic cable to the university’s high-performance computing facilities for analysis.
Researchers will assess the physical characteristics of plants so farmers can adapt crop production practices to enhance sustainability and improve crop productivity and nutritional attributes.
Plaut added the investments of the two groups “will help Purdue apply state-of-the-art technology and data analysis to enhance decision-making abilities and increase profitability for farmers.”
“We’re excited about what this partnership will bring to the agriculture industry,” she said.
Source: Purdue Ag Communications