The world’s ability to feed its growing — and increasingly hungry — population will depend on a culture of openness in research and data sharing, a debate on the future of agricultural research heard. Making agricultural data accessible is key to accelerating new discoveries and translating them into practice in the field.

“I’m sure that at one point it was probably anathema, it was difficult for researchers to let go of their data,” says Medha Devare, Module One Leader at the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture, which produces the Global Agricultural Research Data Innovation & Acceleration Network (GARDIAN).

By their nature, fundamental sciences such as physics or astronomy require practitioners to be very comfortable with data technology, says Devare. This can be missing in applied sciences such as agriculture, she argues, making data science training crucial at the outset of agricultural science studies.