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Syngenta Seeds and the Analytics Society of INFORMS announce finalists for the 2021 Syngenta Crop Challenge in Analytics

Competition inspires cross-industry collaboration to accelerate innovation and improve complex crop breeding processes

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill., USA, March 12, 2021 – Syngenta Seeds and the Analytics Society of INFORMS have announced the finalists for the 2021 Syngenta Crop Challenge in Analytics. The four finalist teams represent students and professionals from the United States and Australia. 

The Syngenta Crop Challenge in Analytics is a collaborative effort between Syngenta Seeds and the Analytics Society of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). Now in its sixth consecutive year, the competition brings together experts in data analytics, mathematics and statistics to create analytical solutions to agriculture challenges. The 2021 competition focused on optimizing year-round corn hybrid breeding processes.

The 2021 Syngenta Crop Challenge finalists, as selected by the prize committee and listed in no particular order, are:
  • Optimal Schedules for Corn Planting and Storage – Reena Kapoor and Rodolfo García-Flores affiliated with CSIRO Data61 (Australia). 
  • Scheduling Planting Time Through Developing an Optimization Model and Analysis of Time Series Growing Degree Units – Javad Ansarifar, Faezeh Akhavizadegan and Lizhi Wang from Iowa State University (USA). 
  • Optimizing Crop Planting Schedule Considering Planting Window & Harvesting Capacity – Saiara Samira Sajid and Guiping Hu from Iowa State University (USA). 
  • A Multiobjective, Soft Constraint Solution to the 2021 Syngenta Crop Challenge – Mingshi Cui, Kunting Qi, Julia Loncala and Byran Smucker from Miami University (USA). 

The 2021 Syngenta Crop Challenge embodied the intersection of mathematics, big data and agriculture. Using real-world crop data, participants were charged with developing analytical approaches and models aimed at optimizing seed product development systems to help increase performance and crop yield potential across diverse environments. 
“The finalists in this year’s competition delivered creative, innovative solutions to support better science to help solve real and complex challenges that farmers face,” said Durai Sundaramoorthi, senior lecturer of data analytics at Olin Business School, Washington University in St. Louis, and Crop Challenge prize committee chair. “The finalists’ submissions demonstrate why collaboration across industries and data-driven solutions are crucial to solving challenges in agriculture and beyond.”
The finalists have been invited to present their submissions in April during the 2021 virtual INFORMS Business Analytics Conference where the winners will be announced. The first-place winner will receive $5,000; the second-place winner will receive $2,500; and third place will receive $1,000.

“This competition reinforces the important role that data analytics have in the agriculture industry at a critical time as farmers face increasing pressures from climate change, soil erosion and biodiversity loss,” said Gregory Doonan, head of advanced analytics, Syngenta Seeds. “Developing models and approaches that improve our decision making and identification of elite and stable genetics can help scientists at organizations like Syngenta make advances in seed product development while ultimately addressing growers needs and the growing global food demand.”

Established in 2015, the Syngenta Crop Challenge in Analytics is supported by Syngenta Seeds and hosted by the Analytics Society of INFORMS. It was initially funded by prize winnings donated by Syngenta in connection with the company’s 2015 win of the Franz Edelman Award for Achievement in Operations Research and the Management Sciences.

The competition exemplifies Syngenta Seed’s commitment to accelerating innovation to address the increasing challenges farmers face and the changing views of society.
For more information about the Syngenta Crop Challenge in Analytics, visit

About Syngenta
Syngenta is one of the world’s leading agriculture companies, comprised of Syngenta Crop Protection and Syngenta Seeds. Our ambition is to help safely feed the world while taking care of the planet. We aim to improve the sustainability, quality and safety of agriculture with world-class science and innovative crop solutions. Our technologies enable millions of farmers around the world to make better use of limited agricultural resources. Syngenta Crop Protection and Syngenta Seeds are part of Syngenta Group with 49,000 people in more than 100 countries working to transform how crops are grown. Through partnerships, collaboration and the Good Growth Plan, we are committed to accelerating innovation for farmers and nature, striving for carbon neutral agriculture, helping people stay safe and healthy, and partnering for impact. To learn more visit and Follow us on X at and

With more than 12,000 members from around the world, INFORMS is the largest international association of operations research (O.R.) and analytics professionals and students. INFORMS provides unique networking and learning opportunities for individuals and organizations to better understand and use O.R. and analytics tools and methods to save lives, save money, and solve problems. The INFORMS Analytics Society, a community of INFORMS, 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.

Media Contacts:
Jason Sparks

Heather Manhardt

INFORMS Media Contact:
Ashley Smith

Web Resources:
Know More, Grow More
Syngenta Newsroom
Syngenta U.S.
Syngenta Crop Challenge

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Syngenta supports but is not a sponsor of this INFORMS challenge. Entrants must read and agree to terms and conditions of the challenge, found with the registration materials.