Successful Farming - - CONTENTS - By Lau­rie Be­dord, Ad­vanced Tech­nol­ogy Edi­tor

Grow­ing up in an agri­cul­tur­ally rich area of west­ern Canada, Su­san MacIsaac was al­ways in­ter­ested in sci­ence. Yet, she wasn’t quite sure how that pas­sion would trans­late into a ca­reer.

Pur­su­ing a de­gree in ba­sic bi­ol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Saskatchewan, she thought, would help de­fine her path. At the time, the univer­sity was on the cut­ting edge of biotech­nol­ogy and agri­cul­tural re­search. It had a ma­jor im­pact on MacIsaac and, ul­ti­mately, her choice in a pro­fes­sion.

To­day, she is the dis­cov­ery sci­ence lead at The Cli­mate Cor­po­ra­tion, where she works to de­velop dig­i­tal tools that help farm­ers se­lect the right hy­brid and man­age it for op­ti­mal yield in a spe­cific field.

SF: What do you en­joy most about your cur­rent role? SM:

My fa­vorite thing about work­ing at The Cli­mate Cor­po­ra­tion is be­ing a part of a com­pany that is trans­form­ing agri­cul­ture. A lot of com­pa­nies say they are do­ing this, but I see us truly mak­ing a ma­te­rial dif­fer­ence in the in­dus­try in a num­ber of ways. We are able to im­pact yield through the prod­ucts Mon­santo of­fers farm­ers, while also shar­ing dig­i­tal in­sights on how to man­age and op­ti­mize those in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant de­ci­sions that they are mak­ing each day. This of­fers us the op­por­tu­nity to pro­vide real value to those in­di­vid­u­als and oper­a­tions. By help­ing farm­ers, we’re help­ing so­ci­ety as a whole.

I also re­ally love be­ing a part of an or­ga­ni­za­tion that is di­verse in so many ways. When I look at my team,

I see peo­ple who are the def­i­ni­tion of a data sci­en­tist – in­di­vid­u­als who are heav­ily into mod­el­ing and com­puter sci­ence. On the other side of the coin, we have peo­ple who are farm­ers by trade so they can pro­vide in-depth knowl­edge that can’t be learned any other way. This kind of di­ver­sity is so pow­er­ful to our mis­sion of help­ing farm­ers make the most of ev­ery acre.

SF: As we look to the fu­ture of food pro­duc­tion, how do you see your role evolv­ing? SM:

There are a lot of ways we are evolv­ing and ad­vanc­ing in or­der to ad­dress the food pro­duc­tion needs of the fu­ture. For ex­am­ple, we are pro­vid­ing new sci­en­tific in­sights into our prod­ucts, how they per­form, and how they are im­pacted by en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions like soil and weather. By un­der­stand­ing these sci­en­tific in­sights, we are able to in­cor­po­rate them into the rec­om­men­da­tions and get the most per­son­al­ized in­sights pos­si­ble.

SF: Can dig­i­tal agri­cul­ture truly trans­form agri­cul­ture? SM:

I ab­so­lutely be­lieve it can, and there is ev­i­dence that it is hap­pen­ing to­day. As it con­tin­ues to evolve, there is no doubt agri­cul­ture will look very dif­fer­ent in 20 or even as lit­tle as 10 years. This will be pos­si­ble, in large part, due to the in­crease in in­for­ma­tion that will be avail­able to us through emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies like drones and some of the sens­ing tech­nolo­gies that are be­ing de­vel­oped.

With that in­creased in­for­ma­tion, our abil- ity to un­der­stand, pre­dict, and de­velop per­son­al­ized rec­om­men­da­tions on which prod­ucts to use and how to man­age them will be­come even more pow­er­ful.

SF: What do you want your legacy to be?


I hope my legacy is one of curiosity and that I helped drive agri­cul­ture in­no­va­tion for­ward. I started my ca­reer by fol­low­ing my pas­sion and work­ing with peo­ple who in­spired and be­lieved in me. I con­tinue that to­day in my cur­rent po­si­tion. As sci­en­tists, we each have a unique path that brought us here. Some were raised on farms; oth­ers were in­ter­ested in data sci­ence. To­gether, we’re all work­ing to­ward the same thing: help­ing farm­ers sus­tain­ably in­crease their pro­duc­tiv­ity with dig­i­tal


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