The USDA-Microsoft Innovation Challenge was crated in response to the President’s Climate Data Initiative in the hopes of utilizing climate data to protect America’s food supply. The USDA offered contestants more than 100 years of crop and climate data through the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform. Now Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Microsoft officials have announced the winners .
Winners were chosen from among 346 registrants and 33 submissions from around the world. A total of $63,000 in cash and prizes have been awarded.
Grand Prize, Open Source Application Award, and Best Visualization in Time or Space Award recipient: Farm Plenty, submitted by George Lee of San Francisco, Calif. This application allows farmers to analyze USDA data about crops grown within five kilometers of their farms to make informed decisions about their own crop choices.
Second Prize and Open Source Application Award recipient: Green Pastures, submitted by Khyati Majmudar of Mumbai, India. This comprehensive dashboard interface allows a farmer to visualize production, economic, livestock, and commodity data from NASS, ERS, ARMS, and other sources at scales from national to local, including information on farmers’ markets.
Third Prize recipient: What’s Local, submitted by Benjamin Wellington of Landscape Metrics LLC in Brooklyn, N.Y. This tool analyzes the resources that are required to produce agricultural outputs by using data from the Census of Agriculture in a way that allows urban population centers to connect with farmers in their area.
Honorable Mention: Open Source Application Award, and Best Student-Made Award recipient: Farm Profit Calculator, submitted by Fernando Napier and Matt Pedersen of Lincoln, Neb. Farmers can use this mobile phone application to compare their input costs (fertilizer, seed, fuel, etc.) to regional averages, and find financial efficiencies where their costs are above the norm.
The USDA is helping coordinate global efforts to make agricultural and nutrition data open as a founding member of the Global Data Partnership and as a member of the U.S. Government Open Data and the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition initiatives.