Technology in Agriculture Initiative Kicks Off With Collaborative Symposium

May 22, 2024

By Katie Bohn

Attendees from within and beyond the University recently convened at Penn State for the Technologies for Agriculture and Living Systems Symposium, where they had the opportunity to learn about current research, share ideas for collaboration, and grow networks.

The two-day event was part of a new initiative in the College of Agricultural Sciences focused on leveraging emerging and advanced technologies to support sustainable and resilient agricultural systems and the broader living systems that support them.

Laszlo Kulcsar, interim dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, said the new initiative is crucial in meeting current and future challenges in workforce development and higher education.

“The college has long been a key player in convening expertise both on campus and across our partners outside Penn State, and we will continue to advance the land-grant mission in this way, too,” Kulcsar said. “I believe that our demonstrated leadership in agricultural technology, as well as our openness to collaboration with other stakeholders, will make this initiative successful and beneficial for all.”

The symposium shone a spotlight on research from across Penn State that supports advanced technologies to enhance food production, health and conservation, and elaborated on how the Technologies for Agriculture and Living Systems Initiative could redefine agroecosystems in the commonwealth and beyond.

Blair Siegfried, associate dean for research and graduate education, noted how Pennsylvania’s diversity of crops, hundreds of thousands of acres of forests, and critical watersheds can provide an excellent setting to test the applications of these technologies on a small scale with global impacts.

“We have a living laboratory at our fingertips where we can develop new technologies as well as adapt existing ones that will support our producers, landowners and conservationists in finding pragmatic and right-sized solutions to increase efficiency and ultimately profitability in their operations,” said Siegfried, who also is the director of the Pennsylvania Agricultural Experiment Station.

Presentations on the first day of the event highlighted the potential to leverage technology such as artificial intelligence for management and conservation; strategies for sustainable food production and supply; mapping, modeling and decision support tool development; and application of robotics to living systems.

On the second day of the symposium, facilitated sessions included panelists and working group discussions on building an entrepreneurial ecosystem that positions Pennsylvania as an ideal testbed for 21st-century innovation in agriculture and natural resource conservation, establishing workforce development pipelines that can elevate Pennsylvania’s economy, and ensuring successful adoption and implementation in operations at all scales.

Christina Grozinger, Publius Vergilius Maro Professor of Entomology and director of the new Technologies for Living Systems Center, said that rather than setting an agenda with selected speakers, the organizing committee invited anyone who was interested in sharing their work to sign up to present.

“It was so exciting and gratifying to see the diversity of speakers and topics, and to see the tremendous potential for synergy across these projects,” Grozinger said. “In between sessions, I heard many people discussing new collaborative opportunities, and the level of enthusiasm was really inspiring. Moreover, we had many excellent talks from graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, and it is clear that the next generation of scientists is really embracing this new field.”

Conference attendees included Penn State participants from more than 30 departments across nine academic colleges at University Park, as well as from other University units, Commonwealth Campuses and interdisciplinary institutes. Partners from private industry, state and federal government agencies, and nongovernmental organizations also participated in presentations and discussion sessions.

Source :
Subscribe to our Newsletters

Trending Video