Smart phone with data and analytics for potato field.

MN Impact: GEMS - Enabling agricultural innovation by turning big data into actionable information

June 16, 2020


Open Data is potentially powerful, enabling evidence-based sustainable agricultural innovation strategies and nutritional security. However, the agricultural sector has struggled to harness the power of big data as increasing amounts of agricultural research is conducted by private companies or involves sensitive on-farm data.

What has been done

CFANS and the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute have teamed up to drive the development of a next-generation agroinformatics data discovery, sharing and analytics platform dubbed GEMSTM (Genetic, Environmental, Management, and Socioeconomic data).


Officially launched in May 2019, the GEMS platform enables public-private, local-global research collaborations for innovation in food and agriculture. It allows data contributors to make their data functionally interoperable—via structured ontologies and data cleaning modules—and allows them to share only those data files or fields within their data that they decide to make available, thus blending the best of both open and private data sharing strategies.

The platform supports a growing number of research collaborations and partnerships including: PepsiCo, the National and Iowa Corn Growers Associations, research ventures funded by USDA’s Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, Stellenbosch University in South Africa, and Land O’Lakes Venture37 in Malawi.

By providing a safe and secure environment for sharing data at all levels, backed by a rapidly expanding set of analytical tools, GEMS is harnessing the power of big data into actionable knowledge for the whole agricultural supply chain, thus helping to reinvent how the University of Minnesota collaborates with the private sector (including farmers) on land-grant research.