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The global population is booming, diets are shifting and urbanization is rising. Never has so much been asked of agriculture to meet the needs of our society. Never have the external risks to agriculture advancement been greater, whether from changing climate, limited natural resources, concerns over chemical inputs, protests over GMO, industry consolidation or reduced choice in the marketplace.

In the face of all these challenges, new innovations are needed to advance agriculture for people and our planet. Cloud biology — the combination of plant biology, Big Data analytics and cloud computing — is one such innovation, driving new developments in agriculture throughout the value chain.

What Exactly Is Cloud Biology?

It isn’t a new field. It is something that has existed in the broader life sciences community for several years, and is centered around the convergence of cloud computing with biology. Think about the cloud services offered by Amazon Web Services and what that really represents, both from an analytics perspective and a computational scale perspective. Combine that with tools like machine learning, artificial intelligence, and more, and you suddenly are able to take very, very large data sets and extract value from them that humans might not be able to see. Then you can take that information, those insights, and develop biological solutions or recommendations from them.

Obviously, this transcends many, many industries, not just the life sciences, but agriculture is quickly becoming fertile ground for cloud biology.

Cloud Biology in Agriculture

The resulting products from all this, of what the computational engine is telling you to do, is in the crop. Sometimes that means higher productivity. Sometimes that means better nutritional profiles. Sometimes that means a different leaf architectures so that you can plant at a higher density in a field and get effectively more outputs for no additional inputs. Whatever it is, it is a result of cloud biology and analytics informing those decisions.

On this week’s podcast we are featuring Matt Crisp, founder and CEO of Benson Hill Biosystems, an iSelect portfolio company that is pioneering the use of cloud biology for agriculture, leveraging technology to solve some of the world’s greatest agricultural challenges.

Click above to listen to the full episode.