Meet Dr Terry Griffin

In his short time in Australia, visiting research fellow Dr Terry Griffin, has proved to to be an experienced researcher and engaging speaker who is passionate about assisting agricultural communities across the world to harness the potential of agricultural data.

“Big Data” is a term that many could be a little scared (or sick) of however Terry’s visit promises to highlight opportunities for Australian broadacre farmers. Citing many similaritities with the industry in his home country, Terry believes many Australian Farmers and the industry are at the cutting edge of digital agriculture. 

What brings you to Australia, have you been here before?

I am currently in Australia with BCG as the 2017 veski Innovation and Sustainable Agriculture visiting Fellow. veski is an organisation providing support for Australian organisations to bring an expert from overseas to Australia for short or long term visits to share knowledge and provide opportunities for collaborative research. I am visiting a number of research based groups in the Australian grains industry to work through challenges in technology and data collection and use. My research project is called “Connectivity, Capability and Trust: breaking down the barriers for farming to create value from data sets. My overall goal is to empower farms and the agricultural community to adopt and use technology that is beneficial to them. This is the first of two visits and I will be meeting with local farmers, BCG, Longerenong College, Agriculture Victoria, Sydney, Curtin and Federation Universities, CSIRO and Food Agility CRC.

I visited Australia three years ago to speak at the Soil Big Data conference. In my last visit I only got the chance to visit cities so it is exciting to be able to have the chance to visit rural areas.

What’s your role at Kansas State University and what have you been involved in?

My role at Kansas State University is a Cropping Systems Economist in a faculty of around 40. In this role I carry out my own research while also managing a number of undergraduate and post graduate students.

What’s your background? How did you come to Agriculture?

I grew up in Arkansas on my parent’s farm where we grew rice, soybean, cotton and corn. I went to university in Arkansas for my first degree in Agronomy. Since then I have completed a masters in Agricultural economics and a PhD in Agricultural economics with a focus on spatial statics and data analysis. I also run a consulting business in precision agriculture and big data analytics.

What are the differences between Australia and the US agricultural technology use and data management on farm and how so?

I don’t think one is ahead of the other at this stage. Two years ago I published a paper investigating the wireless connectivity and networks in US and Australian rural areas. This factor that can really inhibit technology use for a lot of growers and there is a void in both countries. Australia has begun to implement a national broadband network so at least it is a known issue that is being tackled here.

From my short time spent on farm here in Australia it seems that technologies that are more commonly used in the US are available here but not necessarily being used. For example, automated section control on a boom. There are opportunities in both America and Australia for growers to adopt new technologies on farm to better understand their data, for example yield maps and how to pull value from that. 

To meet Terry and hear about some of his areas of work, come to our ‘sundowner’ event at the BCG conference room on Monday 5th March at 6pm for a short presentation followed by a BBQ and drinks. Everyone welcome.

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