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High-Performance Computing in Agriculture: NCSA and Syngenta’s Dynamic Partnership

August 16, 2019

Syngenta has been a partner with NCSA Industry since 2014. Together, we’re helping them solve some of the toughest issues in agriculture today. One of the biggest challenges is, in the next several decades, the world population is going to grow to nine billion people. The real challenge is: how do we feed a population knowing that the amount of land that we have today is what we’re gonna have in the future for growing crops. So it’s a matter of how we’re going to increase yield yet sustain the environment and the farms for the future. A lot of that is going to be data-based types of analytics that we need to do. NCSA is right in the spot where we need them as far as big data, analytics, doing things at scale. HPC is very important because Since these problems are complex, they involve multi-dimensional and very large datasets. In crop sciences specifically, if we want to discuss world hunger, it has to deal with genomic data, but also ecological data, soil samples, the extent of fertilization, weather, climate, population migration, even political situations. And these data are very different from one another – it tends to be difficult to integrate them. In addition, these are also very large datasets, so high-performance computing and advanced data analysis methodologies become very important for solving of these problems. Our relationship with NCSA is multifaceted. Our initial relationship was all about high-performance computing and NCSA gives us a world-class supercomputing resource with an industry program so that we can deliver high-performance computing capabilities to our scientists. NCSA not only provides supercomputing service, they provide a consultancy around it that is very domain knowledgeable for the agricultural sector. We have a good team of resources around the actual infrastructure resource to help us deliver projects and capabilities. So what the Industry program brings is an industry focus on security, performance, availability, that really meets our computational needs. So it’s a good fit, and it’s been a great ongoing relationship. I think the most exciting thing about our partnership are the things that haven’t happened yet. It’s the innovation and the unknown that’s coming that NCSA is well-positioned to help us out in that space.

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