2017 | Big Data


Photo of Michael Boehm

Big data is the incredible flow of information that surrounds each of us, every day. “Big Data: Managing the Future’s Agriculture and Natural Resource Systems” is the title of this 2017 issue of Strategic Discussions for Nebraska.

The stories in this publication were written by students majoring in Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Communication, based on interviews they conducted with University of Nebraska–Lincoln scientists who use the best-available, data-driven technologies in their research.

Read the full Editorial By Michael Boehm

Michael Boehm portrait
To Build, Enhance, Progress

The Morrill Act may have founded the land-grant university system in 1862, but Michael Boehm finds it to be thriving at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 2017.

Boehm became University of Nebraska Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources and Harlan Vice Chancellor of the university’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources on January 1, 2017.

Read the full Interview with IANR Vice Chancellor Michael Boehm

Ron Yoder portrait
Why Focus on Big Data?

Scientists have the ability to collect hundreds of data points in a single second with information from just one simple sensor. Multiply that times all kinds of sensors and all kinds of science and it’s easier to understand the challenges of what’s often called “big data.”

Read the full Interview with Ron Yoder

Archie Clutter portrait
The Right People 
at the Right Time Hiring scientists to solve global challenges.

The Agricultural Research Division is the research engine of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Its dean, Archie Clutter, oversees more than 300 faculty members with research appointments in 15 academic units and two university colleges. 

Read the full Interview with Archie Clutter

Clinton Krehbiel portrait
The Big Picture Team effort critical to 
sustainable animal production.

Today’s production of a billion kilograms of beef – more than 2 billion pounds – requires 35 percent less land, 20 percent less feed, 12 percent less water and 30 percent fewer animals than it did in 1977.

These production efficiencies were realized through science and research collaborations, according to Clinton Krehbiel, who became head of the Department of Animal Science at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 2017.

And the timing couldn’t be better.

Read the full Interview with Clinton Krehbiel

John Carroll portrait
From Earth to Sky and Everything in Between The School of Natural Resources serves the public through research, teaching and outreach

The School of Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln embraces the land-grant mission of teaching, research and extension. And according to its director, John Carroll, the school’s objective is to “assist society in managing the land and its resources in the best way we can.”

Read the full Interview with John Carroll

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Natural Resources A snapshot

LOCATION: Hardin Hall, University of Nebraska–Lincoln East Campus

DIRECTOR (SINCE 2013): John Carroll, Ph.D.

2017: 300 undergraduate students, 150 graduate students, 80 faculty


- A University of Nebraska natural resources unit was discussed as early as 1965

- Many units merged to form the School of Natural Resources (SNR) in 1980

Read the full

Michael Forsberg and Michael Farrell portrait
‘They’re not 
just pictures’ Platte basin timelapse captures images 
of a watershed in motion.

A camera placed in the heart of a canyon overlooks a bald eagle’s nest near Fort Collins, Colorado. Five hundred miles away, a separate camera faces the Platte River. In between the two cameras are more than 50 additional cameras, all part of the Platte Basin Timelapse project. Each daylight hour of each and every day, the cameras capture a photo with the goal of allowing others to see the Platte River Basin watershed in motion.

Read the full Interview with Michael Forsberg and Michael Farrell

Martha Shulski portrait
Nebraska Mesonet Monitors the State’s Weather Can your county sponsor a weather station?

The Nebraska Mesonet is a network of 66 weather-observation stations around the state that continuously monitor air temperature, humidity, precipitation, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, soil temperature and moisture. The stations provide real-time, research-quality data to scientists and consumers who need or want the information.

However, only 45 counties of Nebraska’s 93 have a weather station, and more are needed. 

Read the full Interview with Martha Shulski

Andrew Benson portrait
Simple Goal: 
Cure Disease Nebraska Food for Health Center scientists collaborative, determined.

Research into the intestinal tract – “the gut” – has shown that the hundreds of trillions of microorganisms living there influence the development of gut tissues and the immune system and affect organ function and metabolic function. There is recent evidence that those trillions of organisms may also influence a person’s behavior, suggesting a relationship between the gut and the brain.

Read the full Interview with Andrew Benson

Janos Zempleni portrait
‘Tiny Messengers Orchestrate Metabolism’ Nebraska Center for Obesity Prevention and Dietary Molecules focuses on science of human health.

Each time a person takes a drink of milk or a bite of food, nanoparticles – known as exosomes – within the milk or food deliver signals to different tissues in the human body that can turn genes on and off during the body’s normal metabolic function. The result of this gene activity can lead to life-changing diseases, but scientists are learning to change the effect of the exosomes and hopefully, prevent human disease.

Read the full Interview with Janos Zempleni

Angela Anandappa portrait
Safer Food through Research, Data Analysis

Everyone has a relationship with food. 

The Alliance for Advanced Sanitation’s job is to improve sanitation methods through research and development, while working hand-in-hand with leading food companies. 

Read the full Interview with Angela Anandappa

Richard Ferguson portrait
Drones: Piloting a Different Way of Seeing Agriculture Remote sensors improve efficiency for 
moisture, nutrients and pest control.

Flying over a field at 60 miles per hour is a device collecting data about the way a crop reflects light. The device sends the data to cloud-based software that gives a farmer real-time information about the crop. With that information, a farmer is able to make management decisions such as how much water or nitrogen to apply to the crop. 

Born is a new age of managing fields of crops with unmanned aerial systems (UAS), often referred to as drones. 

Read the full Interview with Richard Ferguson

Jeff Bradshaw portrait
Big Data and Wheat Stem Sawfly Computing data shows quantity, 
location of pests.

The broad impact of Jeff Bradshaw’s research is to improve the lives of agricultural producers in western Nebraska, improving the human condition along the way.

Bradshaw is an associate professor of entomology and Extension entomologist at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff, where he conducts research on the wheat stem sawfly. 

Read the full Interview with Jeff Bradshaw

Photo of Jeffrey Bradshaw
Serving Nebraskans through Research and Extension


Read the full

Joe Luck portrait
Precision Agriculture Engineering solutions for the 21st century.

Meeting the food and fiber needs of a growing world population requires changes in traditional production techniques and attention to efficiency and sustainability. Precision agriculture is a leader in this transformation, and Joe Luck is a leader in precision agriculture. 

Read the full Interview with Joe Luck

Laura Thompson portrait
Nebraska On-Farm Research Network Helping farmers improve, profit.

Helping farmers to improve production practices and increase profitability are goals of the On-Farm Research Network, a part of Nebraska Extension at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. An early network was established in 1989, with 20 producers from Saunders County who were interested in improving their techniques and profitability. In 2012, the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network was formalized through Nebraska Extension, officially bringing together all the on-farm research programs across the state. 

Read the full Interview with Laura Thompson