Farming for geeks is about to get easier, thanks to a new software development platform pioneered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and coming soon to a corn-field near you.
The Object Modeling System (OMS), recently launched by the USDA, allows people anywhere in the world to develop software applications for running complex computer models in the cloud.
“OMS is a computer framework to easily create and update problem- or region-specific compatible models, using science modules chosen from a library. It provides a uniform system of evaluation and delivery of models to users,” Laj Ahuja, research leader at the Agricultural Systems Research Unit in Fort Collins, Colorado, said in a press release.
In the past, running models has been a laborious process. OMS improves the efficiency of using these model services for farmers by 90%. The framework includes several agro-environmental modules and models. Data embedded in resource maps for the area will be relayed to OMS-hosted model services to compute answers leading to recommendations for the resource problems the farmer has identified.
One of the “apps” being developed with OMS will allow farmers to estimate how much soil a field has lost during a heavy rain by simply clicking a few buttons on their cell phone. The “app” plugs the field’s coordinates into the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation version 2 (RUSLE2) model service, which calculates soil erosion under various conditions and scenarios and returns these estimates to the farmer’s cell phone.
“Computer models, managed in frameworks like OMS, coupled with field experiments and wireless delivery devices are the next frontier for agricultural research and technology transfer,” said Ahuja. “These frameworks harness the growing power of computer technology, enabling it to reach its full potential.”