SAS, NC A&T and NC State to offer analytics-driven agricultural research to state’s farmers and growers

University researchers and extension services to bring farms insights on crops, climate and more

A partnership between North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, North Carolina State University, and data and AI leader SAS is set to advance agricultural research at the state’s land-grant universities. Using the state’s proven university extension programs, farmers and growers will reap the benefits of an agricultural research collaboration that takes research insights from the lab to the field.

Farmers, ranchers, growers and producers will have access to insights powered by SAS via extension and related programs at both universities. With 101 centers, more than 1,100 experts and a network of partnerships throughout the state, the extension programs help citizens transform science into everyday solutions that improve lives and grow the state. The SAS partnership aims to enrich research initiatives, particularly in precision agriculture, enabling continuous improvement in plant sciences, animal husbandry, crop yields, land management, and supporting profitable and sustainable practices.

"As the nation's largest land-grant HBCU, we are excited to use this platform to deliver 'Ag 5.0'  –  research-based, data-driven agricultural know-how – to all communities, including the small, limited-resource and minority farmers that constitute so much of our state's agriculture sector, and to provide it in ways that everyone can easily understand," said Shirley Hymon-Parker, Interim Dean of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at NC A&T. "We look forward to bringing research out of the lab faster and more effectively, and into the communities that are eager to use it."

“This partnership between SAS and the two NC land grant universities will energize and accelerate discoveries and delivery of solutions and opportunities to our agriculture sector,” said Steven A. Lommel, Director of the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service and Associate Dean for Research at NC State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). “Like all fields, agriculture is data driven. Analytics-based solutions accelerated by this partnership will increase yields, efficiency, resiliency and sustainability while reducing inputs and costs.”

Growing from a fruitful partnership

The collaboration builds on the success of previous work between SAS and NC State’s Plant Sciences Initiative (PSI), In 2020, SAS partnered with the PSI to pilot a data and analytics platform that empowers research for multidisciplinary projects that have included using data and in-field sensors to detect plant diseases and improve the sustainability of agricultural systems, and using computer-vision software to boost the profitability of sweet potatoes.

NC State and NC A&T will deploy SAS® Viya®, an end-to-end analytics and AI platform, to enhance research, accelerate innovation and support future grant opportunities. Both universities anticipate that the platform-powered collaboration will aid in the capture of highly competitive research and grant funding, amplifying their research outputs. The research insights of SAS Viya will help university researchers:

  • More efficiently orchestrate the entire research life cycle.
  • Integrate disparate data from across academic, government and industry sources.
  • Work in open source or SAS to amplify analytical outputs and impact.
  • Centrally manage complex data security, integrity, governance and continuity.

Investing in a legacy of agricultural leadership

The collaboration is supported by state funding for NC A&T and NC State to enhance the state's agricultural sector, which generates an economic impact of more than $100 billion annually.

“We see this public-private partnership as an opportunity to serve agriculture in an innovative way – unlocking information, insights and new approaches to benefit our state’s growers, producers and researchers," said state Sen. Brent Jackson, who is Chairman of the agriculture and appropriations committees in the chamber. "These collaborative efforts from two great universities are vital to the ongoing effort around continued advancement in agriculture.”

“We wanted to empower work that aims to unlock research insights for farmers and others who work in and support food production,” said state Rep. Jimmy Dixon, who serves as Senior Chairman of two committees in the state House focused on agriculture. “Our two land-grant institutions are important pieces of the agricultural landscape in our state. With this ongoing project, we aim to leverage the deep expertise in analytics power and brainpower to support a critical part of our economy.”

In addition to supporting the commodity producers of the state with insights and transfer of university research from the lab to the field, the research platform will help NC State and NC A&T:

  • Foster and enable capture of research grants and other revenue streams.
  • Attract student and faculty talent.
  • Develop workforce and farmer-of-the-future capacities and capabilities.

“The SAS platform is robust and configured precisely for this type of deployment to support advanced analytics in agriculture,” said Leah Burton, SAS Principal Industry Consultant, Higher Education. “We have already seen great examples of new research come from our collaboration with NC State, and we’re excited about the possibilities fostered by the strength of these partnerships.”

About the NC A&T College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences

With a rich history of innovation, application of cutting-edge technology, and delivery of educational programs for students and North Carolina communities, we engage in practical research that enriches the lives, the land and the economy of our state and nation and helps to meet the food challenges of a hungry planet.

About the NC State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS)

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University lives the land-grant mission through our 12 academic departments, research and extension services. What we think and do helps transform challenges into opportunities that create economic, intellectual and societal prosperity across the state and around the world.

About SAS

SAS is a global leader in data and AI. With SAS software and industry-specific solutions, organizations transform data into trusted decisions. SAS gives you THE POWER TO KNOW®.

Editorial contacts:

The SAS, NC A&T and NC State collaboration will enrich research initiatives, particularly in precision agriculture, enabling continuous improvement in plant sciences, animal husbandry, crop yields, land management, and supporting profitable and sustainable practices.