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Clemson sparks deal with IBM

Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish, and he eats for a lifetime.

There are several variations of this proverb, but the general idea behind it — teach people how to reach long-term solutions to help them face more productive futures — endures. Based on this belief, the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service, IBM and the AgStack Foundation, a Linux Foundation project, are working together to provide farmers around the world with educational information on how to grow crops sustainably.

From this collaboration, Clemson’s Ecosystem for Agricultural Technology Sharing, or EATS, community is being established. One focus of the EATS community is the creation of the Digital Ag Recommendations Server, or Ag-Rec, a massive database that will house Extension Service recommendations related to issues farmers routinely face.

The Extension Service was founded in 1914 and acts as a repository of science-based agricultural recommendations shared through county agents. Through Ag-Rec, farmers around the world will be able to access information related to their crops. Geotagging will allow the use of local market and climate data so that information is region specific. Information contained in Ag-Rec will be freely accessible to app developers for incorporation into related apps.

Establishment of the program is coordinated by Clemson precision agriculture engineer Kendall Kirk, with project management led by Mallory Douglass. Kirk is part of a robust team of scientists dedicated to developing precision agriculture technologies such as software, sensors, UAVs and robots, all designed to increase farming productivity and sustainability.

“The Cooperative Extension Service has information to help farmers sustainably grow productive crops,” Kirk said. “Through the Ag-Rec server, we are establishing a digital presence for Extension recommendations, which we anticipate will be the start of revolutionizing delivery of Extension programs worldwide. We intend to build a framework that Extension programs everywhere can contribute to.

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