Indiana corn, soybean farmers support facility at Purdue

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Purdue plant phenotyping facility
The Purdue University automated plant phenotyping facility is under construction at the Agronomy Center for Research and Education in West Lafayette, Indiana. It is to open in spring 2016. (Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. —  Two groups representing Indiana corn and soybean farmers are making a $4 million investment in automated plant phenotyping research and education to further Purdue University’s innovative work in plant sciences.

Funding

The Indiana Soybean Alliance will provide $1 million in soybean checkoff funds to buy equipment for the new automated plant phenotyping facility at the Purdue Agronomy Center for Research and Education, and the Indiana Corn Marketing Council will provide the same amount in corn checkoff funds to support the facility’s construction.

An additional $1 million from each organization will be placed into two endowments to fund in perpetuity corn and soybean research related to plant phenotyping and technology innovation.

Plant phenotyping

The support for plant phenotyping – identifying and measuring plant characteristics – was announced Dec. 7 at a celebration event at ACRE. The facility, now under construction, is scheduled to open next spring.

The objective of the two organizations’ checkoff investments is to improve corn and soybean yields using big data and advanced technology to enhance sustainable production practices while keeping Indiana farmers competitive in the global market.

Benefits

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.

Plant characteristics

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. Karen Plaut, senior associate dean for research and faculty affairs in the College of Agriculture, said 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.”

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