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2017 Syngenta Crop Challenge in Analytics Winner Announced

04.05.17

  • A team from the BioSense Institute in Serbia is the first-place winner
  • The contest challenged entrants to develop a model that predicts the seed varieties farmers are most likely to select
  • Winning solution developed a strategy to determine seed variety selections based on the farmers’ risk profiles
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., USA – Syngenta and the Analytics Society of INFORMS® are proud to recognize a team from the BioSense Institute in Serbia as the winner of the second annual Syngenta Crop Challenge in Analytics.

The team, which included Oskar Marko, Sanja Brdar, Marko Panic, Isidora Šašic, Milivoje Kneževic, Danica Despotovic and Vladmir Crnojevic was awarded a $5,000 prize for its entry, “Portfolio Optimization for Seed Selection in Diverse Weather Scenarios”. The entry produced a mathematical strategy for predicting farmers’ soybean seed variety demand.


(Left to right) Joseph Byrum, Marko Panic, Oskar Marko, Crop Challenge committee chair Robin Lougee,
INFORMS representative Stefan Karisch


“The overall quality of submissions was at exactly the level of analytical and mathematical thinking we are looking to bring to the agriculture space,” said Joseph Byrum, Ph.D., MBA, PMP, senior R&D strategic marketing executive with Syngenta and Syngenta lead for the Crop Challenge committee. “Very little separated all the finalist submissions—but there was excellent clarity in the logic of the BioSense team’s submission. They put a great deal of thought and contemplation into a very complex problem, and then solved it systematically.”

“It is an exceptional honor to win first prize—all the teams were exceptionally good and all had different approaches,” said Oskar Marko, team lead for the winning submission. “We feel very fortunate that our approach proved to be the most effective.”

Marko’s team from the BioSense Institute, a multi-disciplinary research organization affiliated with the University of Novi Sad in Serbia, received fourth place in last year’s Crop Challenge in Analytics. After the competition, the team used material it developed in that Challenge submission to help its university receive agriculture research funding from Horizon 2020, a European Commission-led program that fosters research and innovation in the sciences.

This year’s Challenge tasked participants to use data analytics to predict which soybean seed variety—or assortment of varieties—is most likely to be chosen by farmers within a specific growing region. Since seed variety selection is one of the most important decisions farmers make each season and no two seasons are alike, data driven models are increasingly being deployed in making seed decisions.

The finalists made their presentations on April 3, 2017, at the INFORMS Business Analytics Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. Programs were evaluated based on the rigor and validity of the process used to determine optimal seed varieties, the quality of the proposed solution, and the finalists’ ability to clearly articulate their solution and its methodology.

The runner up submission, “A Decision Making Approach for Soy Seed Variety Selection via Hedging Against Weather Risk,” authored by Zhongshun Shi, Yu Zhao, Xi Zhang and Leyuan Shi from Peking University, China, received a $2,500 prize; and the third place entry, “A Hierarchical-Ensemble of Machineries to Optimize the Choice of Soybean Varieties,” authored by Durai Sundaramoorthi, Lingxiu Dong, Iva Rashkova and Piruthiviraj Sivaraj from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, received a $1,000 prize.

Syngenta, an award-winning company for its innovation in plant breeding analytics, supports this competition, which is hosted by the Analytics Society of INFORMS, in 2016. Syngenta donated the prize money from its 2015 Franz Edelman Award win to create and support the Syngenta Crop Challenge for four consecutive years.

“The Analytics Society of INFORMS is proud to work with Syngenta, a company that has been leading the way within its industry to use operations research to revolutionize its processes, improving both its own business and global food production,” said Robin Lougee, research industry lead at IBM Research and committee chair of the Crop Challenge prize committee. “We are excited that this Challenge has helped promote interest in analytics research in agriculture. The Analytics Society of INFORMS is uniquely positioned to help the agriculture industry meet its toughest challenges in the years to come.”

The premise of the competition series underscores Syngenta’s commitment to make crops more efficient—an essential pillar of The Good Growth Plan, Syngenta’s global initiative to improve the sustainability of agriculture.

Details regarding the 2018 Crop Challenge will be announced next month, with submissions due in January 2018. For more details about the Syngenta Crop Challenge and to register for the 2018 Challenge, please visit www.ideaconnection.com/syngenta-crop-challenge.
       
About Syngenta
Syngenta is a leading agriculture company helping to improve global food security by enabling millions of farmers to make better use of available resources. Through world class science and innovative crop solutions, our 28,000 people in over 90 countries are working to transform how crops are grown. We are committed to rescuing land from degradation, enhancing biodiversity and revitalizing rural communities. To learn more visit www.syngenta.com and www.goodgrowthplan.com. Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Syngenta and www.twitter.com/SyngentaUS.

About INFORMS
With more than 12,500 members from around the globe, INFORMS is the leading international association for professionals in analytics and operations research. INFORMS advances research and promotes best practices in analytics and operations research through an array of highly-cited publications, conferences, competitions, networking communities and professional development services.

The INFORMS Analytics Society promotes the integration of a wide range of analytical techniques and supports activities that illuminate significant innovations and achievement in the growing field of analytics.

Syngenta media contacts:
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chris.tutino@syngenta.com

Karyn Ostrom
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INFORMS media contact:
Ashley Kilgore
443-757-3560
ashley.kilgore@informs.org

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