SCC: Smart Integrated Farm Network for Rural Agricultural Communities (SIRAC)

Grants and Contracts Details


The project will optimize the use of dynamic spectrum access (DSA) and mobile crowd sensing (MCS) for connectivity across rural farming communities and their stakeholders. The use of distributed and privacy preserving data analytics will facilitate the necessary tools to develop time-sensitive mitigation strategies for important agriculture related issues, and improve the financial viability and sustainability of farming communities. Translational research and socio-economic analysis will determine the needs and expectations of a defined physical farming community (Iowa Soybean Association) and define incentives and social levers that will build trust in the new technology and enable seamless adoption into current practice. It is envisioned that with the integration of connectivity technology into this community, a strong, vibrant, and profitable advanced farming community will be created. We are an interdisciplinary team consisting of agronomists, engineers, data scientists, sociologists and economists working in tandem with the targeted rural farming community (Iowa Soybean Association) to design a Smart Connect Farm (SCF) network. Intellectual Merit: This project will lead to the design of a multiband DSA network, and corresponding protocol stack, dynamically optimized for the needs of the SCF network. Novel incentive mechanisms for MCS will be designed to improve operational reliability and decision accuracy. This project will make fundamental contributions in algorithmic development and implementation of distributed machine learning, specifically on constrained communication topology, and in algorithmic development and implementation of privacy-preserving machine learning. The project will address both the social, technological, and economic barriers to the formation of farmer networks. The novelty of the methodology is to engage the farming community in the defining the requirements as well as assessment of the technological and economic solutions. The novelty of the economics analysis is the assessment of the potential for scaling the formation of farmer networks through new forms of agreements between farmer networks and other agricultural organizations that could share both the benefits from the information and learning within the network and the costs of implementing the new communication infrastructure. Broader Impacts: The proposed cost-effective communication technologies, along with privacy-preserving distributed data analytics and machine learning tools will have significant impact on a broad range of cyber-physical systems applications, such as IoTs, transportation networks and smart grid. The assessment of social and economic incentives for farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural supply chain will facilitate participation in the network, possibly through new partnerships with entities such as cooperatives, traders, and insurers. The tested framework can be adapted and replicated in different rural areas, extending the contribution of SIRAC beyond the scope proposed in this project. The tools developed in this project will be integrated in planned extension and outreach courses and thus influence the training and education of the next generation of community members. We will leverage our well-established educational and outreach activities in this project. The techniques and knowledge developed through this project will be implemented in the PI's and Co-PIs' learning and teaching environments to enhance existing courses. The PI and co-PIs have a proven record of mentoring women and minority students. The team currently mentor or have recently mentored over a dozen underrepresented minority PhD students and Post Docs. We will leverage the diversity program in the ISU College of Engineering (LEAD; Leadership through Engineering Academic Diversity) to help connect with students from underrepresented groups. We will develop a web-series lecture that will present the tech-socio-economic opportunities for the farm communities. Young entrepreneur farmers in particular will benefit from SIRAC results because the networking process within the community will accelerate self-learning processes, reducing potential risk when starting their operation. The focus on extensibility and sustainability of the project beyond the proposed 4 year time frame ensures that a much broader group of rural communities will benefit from the proposed development
Effective start/end date10/1/209/30/23


  • Iowa State University: $307,952.00


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