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Communications of the ACM


Rich Data, Poor Fields

Rich Data, Poor Fields, illustration

Credit: Eastern Daily Press

In a world with more mobile phones than flush toilets, digital devices are now standard equipment among even the world's poorest and most remote people. Farmers in these areas are getting tools for their devices that help deliver water, nutrients, and medicine to plants as needed; test for crop diseases and malnourishment; and survey their soil for future planning. In some cases, these emerging apps are the biggest new technologies resource-poor farms have seen in hundreds of years.

That is not very surprising to Rajiv "Raj" Khosla, professor of Precision Agriculture at the College of Agricultural Sciences of Colorado State University. "What we're finding is that many small-scale farmers in resource-poor environments are still farming in the 1500s. They're looking for leapfrog technologies," he said.


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