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NDSU extends network resources to USDA research center

A recent initiative between NDSU and the Red River Valley Agricultural Research Center has extended NDSU’s existing cyberinfrastructure to the research center.

The Red River Valley Agricultural Research Center is located on NDSU’s main campus in Fargo. It is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, the USDA’s chief scientific research agency.

The center partners with NDSU faculty and student researchers to explore a wide range of agricultural issues, including foreign chemicals and food safety, use of bees in crop pollination, weed management, and improved production of durum, wheat, barely, oat, sugar beet, potato, sunflower and other crops.

NDSU’s Information Technology Division reached an agreement with the center to extend existing network infrastructure to the center’s Biosciences Research Laboratory.

NDSU network engineers used existing underground fiber optic cable to connect the center’s network to the campus’s 10-gigabit network backbone.

“We were able to initiate this project using existing NDSU network resources, because it allowed us to better serve students, faculty and staff who work at the lab,” said Terry Wieland, director of network engineering and operations at NDSU.

Work was completed during summer 2015. The center continues to manage its own network resources; however, with the connection to NDSU’s network resources in place, researchers at the center can now connect to the Internet at speeds more than 200 times faster than previously possible.

Because NDSU is a member of the Northern Tier Network Consortium and Internet2 communities, the center’s researchers also have high-capacity and high-speed connectivity to more than 500 national and international academic, industry and government research sites.

These connections have set the stage for future collaborative research.

William Kemp, agricultural administrator at the Red River Valley Agricultural Research Center, said the network expansion is key to the center’s continued success. “Extension of the NDSU network into USDA facilities will expand opportunities for collaborative research, and will likewise enhance the ability of NDSU and USDA collaborators to attract jointly-submitted competitive grants,” Kemp said.

The initiative between NDSU and the Red River Valley Agricultural Research Center aligns with recent efforts to enhance high-performance computing and scientific research activities across the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service sites. Internet2 announced last year it would partner with the USDA to implement a high-speed, research-only network, known as the ARS Science Network. Initial implementation of the network will connect six major Agricultural Research Service centers at speeds of 10 or 100 gigabits per second, depending on the location. Those centers are located in Albany, California; Fort Collins, Colorado; Ames, Iowa; Beltsville, Maryland; Stoneville, Mississippi; and Clay Center, Nebraska.

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