The University of Minnesota is teaming up with agribusiness and conservation groups to use a massive database to boost food production while reducing harm to the environment.
The Global Landscapes Initiative combines on-the-ground reports and satellite images to pinpoint trends in crop production, fertilizer and water use, and other variables in agriculture around the world.
Team member Paul West said the information can help agribusiness figure out where to invest acquiring oats, corn, beans in areas that will have a smaller environmental impact per ton of food that is produced.
West said the database is based on reports on 175 crops from around the world.
"From those many different data sources we have good information on what crops are grown where, how much they're producing, what the land base is, and in general how much fertilizer or irrigation is used in each of these places for each of these crops," West said.
The team is designing tools that can make the database useful to farmers, corporations, and non-profit groups as they try to meet the food needs of a growing population while protecting the environment.