The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are strengthening their longstanding partnership. A memorandum of understanding was recently signed that should lead to an expansion of ag research. USDA and NASA will be working together to identify research gaps that are important to the agricultural sector. The agencies will collaborate on areas where innovative Earth observation systems and technologies could provide ag solutions.
“As we’ve seen over the past 100 years, increasing innovation in agriculture is limitless,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a news release. “This partnership between USDA and NASA will bring together the best research, science, and technology we have to offer to help produce more food to feed the growing world. We are continuing an already great collaborative effort to utilize space-based technologies across sectors and into agriculture.”
NASA’s experience with technological development and space-borne Earth science measurements will be coupled with USDA’s areas of expertise. USDA’s vast knowledge of agricultural systems and resource conservation will help to apply NASA research and development to the ag sector. The relationship that USDA has with the agricultural community along with the global marketplace will also play a role in expanding ag research. Work conducted on the International Space Station pertaining to plant-related research can provide valuable information that could be applied to conventional agricultural production. NASA research performed in space or on ground platforms may lead to new agricultural innovations to protect the environment and improve human health.
“When we combine research on the International Space Station with the amazing capabilities that Earth observation provides, I believe that NASA, in partnership with USDA, could transform farming and bolster agricultural production in ways we can’t even imagine today,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Microgravity research can unlock secrets in a wide variety of fields, and I’m particularly excited about our agency’s potential impact on next-generation agricultural techniques.”