Seed World

CDA Celebrated Five Years of Pioneering Digital Agriculture at Annual Conference

Photo courtesy of UIUC

Event showcased breakthroughs in tech and collaborations shaping the future of farming.

In 2018, the Center for Digital Agriculture (CDA) was established with an eye toward the future of agriculture, recognizing the transformative impact of technology on the sector. Over five years, CDA has developed interdisciplinary curriculums, research initiatives and industry partnerships, while providing training for both scientists and students.

This year, the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign’s (UIUC) iHotel and Illinois Conference Center played host to the CDA’s annual conference—a celebration of their progress under the theme “Future of Digital Agriculture.” Under new leadership, this event was their largest yet.

“The CDA conference is intended to celebrate the first five years of the center and to provide a preview into the opportunities ahead as we expand our role in advancing digital agriculture in collaboration with our academic and industry partners,” said John Reid, the executive director of CDA in a UIUC news release.

The conference marks past achievements and also sets the stage for future contributions to digital agriculture. Each year builds upon the previous one, with projects that blend supercomputing resources with academic research.

 “The CDA conference was a great opportunity for me to connect with practitioners and get a new perspective on the challenges in Ag,” said Katie Driggs-Campbell, an assistant professor at UIUC.

Attendees enjoyed a diverse agenda, covering topics from automation in crop production to human-centered design in agriculture. Noteworthy was the keynote address by Yongsheng Chen, a professor from Georgia Tech, who discussed the integration of resource recovery with digital agriculture and AI to enhance urban sustainability.

“My message focused on emphasizing how digital agriculture holds the potential to instigate meaningful and sustainable change in the agricultural sector,” Chen remarked in her address.

The conference also underscored the importance of industry partnerships. Wilfried Aulbur, a senior partner at Roland Berger Global Consulting, delivered an industry keynote on precision farming and autonomy.

“Feeding a still growing global population adequately and sustainably is one of the most important and most pressing challenges of our times,” he stated, emphasizing the critical role of technology in sustainable agriculture.

The CDA is enhancing its industry partners program, fostering collaborations that accelerate research and development and expand workforce capabilities.