researchers in a field using equipment

Big Data Initiative at NDSU Adds Value For North Dakota Stakeholders 

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Agriculture research data scientists, software developers and climate experts at NDSU are transforming the way researchers design experiments and analyze agriculture and weather data by delivering analytic and software solutions that are available at the tips of their fingers.  

As technology plays an ever-greater role in agriculture, researchers are accumulating massive amounts of data, referred to as “big data.” All that data needs to be securely stored, managed and easily analyzed for it to become a meaningful tool for researchers and end users, such as farmers and ranchers.  

Funding from the North Dakota Legislature and various federal grants has allowed NDSU Agriculture to begin building the human and technology infrastructure to support its big data initiatives.  

The NDSU Big Data Pipeline Unit, led by director Ana Heilman-Morales, is leading projects in data analytics, database architecture and software development. The team is developing several applications that automate analyses and reporting to allow users to make data-driven decisions.  

Currently, one of their applications, FielDHub, has 11,000 users around the globe and is being recognized as a leading tool in both teaching and research. The North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network (NDAWN) is also making strides in its management and use of big data. NDAWN has 192 weather stations across the region that generate over a million readings per day, according to Daryl Ritchison, director of NDAWN.  

All that data goes into databases, where it is analyzed into information that supports decision-makers in agriculture and beyond. With additional funding received from this year’s North Dakota Legislative Session, NDAWN will add programmers who can support the existing infrastructure, update existing tools into more modern versions, and begin creating new tools to meet the needs of stakeholders.  


Big Data Pipeline Unit  

Ana Heilman-Morales, 701-231-6344,  

Big Data Pipeline  

Daryl Ritchison, 701-231-8209,