Congratulations to the winners of the Syngenta Crop Challenge. MS&E PhD students Xiaocheng Li, and Hayden Huaiyang Zhong were awarded First Prize in the Syngenta Data Challenge at the INFORMS Conference in Orlando, Florida in April 2016. The prize was for their work on "Hierarchical Modeling of Soybean Variety Yield and Decision Making for Future Planting Planning."
About the Syngenta Crop Challenge
As world population increases and the percentage of land devoted to agriculture decreases, it becomes vital to improve the productivity of the agricultural land available. Companies like Syngenta strive to improve varieties of their crops to meet this need.
Farmers have to make decisions about which soybean varieties to plant each year. To make this decision farmers often consider expected weather conditions, knowledge about the soil at their farms, and performance studies of candidate soybean varieties from numerous sources. Soybean variety yield is sensitive to growing conditions. Farmers can select a single variety or a mix of a few varieties to serve as a hedge against stressful weather patterns, but in a year with typical weather such choices can dramatically reduce yields.
The challenge is to determine how a farmer can make seed variety decisions that reliably reduce risk and increase yield.
The winners received $5,000, the runner-up got $2,500, and the third place entry received $1,000.