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Platform Directors Present at Commodity Conference

Faculty members and students with the North Carolina Plant Sciences Initiative played a central role in the 2024 North Carolina Commodity Conference.

Four researchers at a podium table.

In the face of significant farmland loss in a fast-growing state, how will North Carolina agriculture and agribusiness continue to grow? Speaking at the 2024 North Carolina Commodity Conference in January, State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler answered that question today in two words: partnerships and research.

Fittingly, his remarks were immediately followed by examples of research partnerships with N.C. Plant Science Initiative ties that hold exciting promise for N.C. farmers:

Soybean Extension Specialist Rachel Vann discussed a soon-to-be-released soybean growers’ decision-making tool developed by N.C. PSI in collaboration with the NC State University’s Data Science Academy based on field research funded by the North Carolina Soybean Producers Association. The tool draws upon data generated in partnership with growers, Extension agents and agricultural research stations across the state. A faculty member with NC State’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Vann serves as NC PSI’s platform director for extension outreach and engagement.

Another N.C. PSI platform director, Cranos Williams, was part of a panel of experts who discussed examples of artificial intelligence being used in N.C. agriculture. Williams, a faculty member with NC State’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, talked about the Sweetpotato Analytics for Produce Provenance and Scanning project. Sweet-Apps leverages high-throughput imaging, optical sensing, diagnostics and integrated data analytics to minimize waste and maximize value for the sweetpotato industry. From its start, this project has worked closely with the North Carolina Sweetpotato Commission and the state’s growers to deliver relevant solutions that minimize waste and maximize value for the sweetpotato industry.

The conference also featured a cover crops panel that included Chris Reberg-Horton, also an N.C. PSI platform director and faculty member in Crop and Soil Sciences.

We’re also proud to report that Emma Schoeppner, an N.C. PSI graduate student working with Anders Huseth in the NC State Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, won third place in the conference’s poster contest. Her poster was titled “Evaluation of Alternative Insecticide Application Timings for Wireworms in Sweetpotato.”