A partnership between analytics leader SAS and Boragen, Inc., a world-leading boron-based discovery platform company, combines crop science and data science to better protect crops. "With global population growth threatening to outpace food production, SAS and Boragen will pursue breakthrough crop protection research, helping more food make it from the field to the table," the company says. 

AI speeds testing of new crop protection products

Boragen is a pioneer in using the element boron to create new molecules that fight plant disease and protect crops. But getting a new compound from the lab to the field is time-consuming and expensive, involving several phases of testing.

"The first joint project between SAS and Boragen shows remarkable promise in speeding up this process," they say. "By applying SASĀ® artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to Boragen data, researchers can better predict which products will be more effective and should be moved to the next testing phase, and which can be abandoned, generating greater time and cost savings. Scientists spend less time screening products in lab and greenhouse settings, moving the most promising products into field testing quicker and shortening development times." 

A local partnership with global priorities
The testing advances are made possible by data generated by the Boragen R&D team, which works closely with SAS agriculture technology experts.

SAS has its roots in agriculture. The company's first project was analyzing agricultural data more than 40 years ago. Last year, SAS established a new AgTech business unit which partners with emerging companies, including those in its North Carolina backyard.

"We search for partners who can help meet the challenge of feeding 10 billion people by 2050," said Paula Henderson, Senior Vice President for the US Commercial and Public Sector at SAS. "Boragen shares our commitment to transforming agriculture through research and technology, and we are excited to apply joint innovations to improve crop protection and boost food production."

SAS will also support Boragen's research into sustainable "bi-functional" products that effectively control pesky crop diseases and subsequently degrade into beneficial byproducts that improve crop health.

"We have already seen biological evidence of such bi-functional products being achievable, and sophisticated data analytics will be critical in guiding our research into this promising frontier," said Boragen Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder Dr. Tony Liu. 

"By applying SAS agriculture analytics and machine learning, Boragen can access another layer of inferences and insights into data sets, which further bolsters the novelty, efficacy and safety of the boron-based crop protection pipeline."