“We expect that by sharing this information – and because we have access now to climate models and satellite that help in developing predictive models – that we’ll be able to do a much better job of anticipating climate change and its effects on agriculture,” said Woteki . That will lead, “to building climate-resistant agricultural systems around the world.

“The expectation that (Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack) has … is that making agriculture data open and accessible is going to really be revolutionary.”

The “wide array” of data includes that “from our plant and animal research programs where we’re mapping the genomes of important crops and animal species for agriculture. That genetic sequencing information (includes) the identification of the genes that have important quality traits or convey drought- or pest-resistance.

“We’re also including all of our agricultural statistics data. Traditionally, that has been available but now it will be easier” to access.

Also available are datasets from the U.S. Geological Survey and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that take advantage of Earth-observing satellites. “Those provide information about vegetative cover, water and topographical characteristics. All of that is important for agriculture.”

Woteki continued: “The big deal here is that by making these data available, a lot of applications will be developed that the farmer will be able to use…

“When you buy a John Deere today it has 10 million lines of computer code in it. The GPS system that is the basis of precision agriculture is a good example of an application many farmers are taking advantage of…

“Already we’re seeing applications that are helping farmers to identify specific pests or diseases earlier.”

A “myriad” of other applications will be developed “that farmers will appreciate. Those will come from entrepreneurs, from Extension agents, from larger companies or government scientists. The beauty of open data is that by getting it out there, people with an idea, people who have talent, will develop those applications.”

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