Trilogy Networks, Grand Farm, launch rural cloud computing initiative in Fargo

Trilogy Networks' Chief Technology Officer Venky Swaminathan explained that a cloud computing infrastructure is "critical for any advanced applications and solutions to be made possible."

Venky Swaminathan along with Frank Casey, Brian Carroll and Ryan Aasheim talk about the Trilogy Networks launch at the 1 Million Cups event on Wednesday, Sept. 30. Emerging Prairie has replaced the 1 Million Cups platform with StartupBREW. The weekly event will return April 28 at Island Park in Fargo. David Samson / The Forum

FARGO — Trilogy Networks, a Boulder, Colo.-based cloud computing firm, announced a collaboration with Emerging Prairie's Grand Farm Initiative to bring cloud computing capabilities to North Dakota's agricultural industry Wednesday, Sept. 30.

As part of its rural cloud computing initiative, Trilogy Networks will build a fundamental cloud computing infrastructure for Grand Farm, which seeks to promote collaboration across the agriculture industry.

Trilogy Networks' Chief Technology Officer Venky Swaminathan explained that a cloud computing infrastructure is "critical for any advanced applications and solutions to be made possible."

The infrastructure will consist of a reliable wireless network and native cloud computing capabilities available on the farm, Swaminathan said. With those two components, he said, "we can enable and experiment with a lot of different applications and data-gathering solutions." Data-gathering would consist primarily of collecting information on a crop's temperature, humidity, soil moisture and water levels.

"We really didn't have any understanding of how massive the proliferation of technology has been in agriculture," Swaminathan said. "Our association with Grand Farm has significantly helped us to ramp up that ecosystem." A native cloud network, he concluded, would allow for "massive amounts of data" to be processed "very quickly."


Trilogy Networks' cloud computing capabilities will allow farmers to be "smarter, faster, more efficient, more productive and make decisions faster," Ryan Aasheim of the Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corporation added.

Joining Grand Farm in the initiative is North Dakota State University’s Agricultural Experiment Station. According to the station's Associate Director Dr. Frank Casey, improved data collection would enhance the university's research and result in millions in cost savings for farmers in North Dakota and beyond.

Casey highlighted fertilizer use as one of many areas which would benefit from improved efficiencies. Worldwide, Casey said, crops only make use of 30% of the fertilizer that is applied. A 2% savings in nitrogen fertilizer use, he calculated, would result in $25 million in savings.

"You can either have people out there that are spoon-feeding these plants their fertilizer, or you can develop intense agriculture," he said, which would deploy sensors to determine the optimal time to apply fertilizer.

NDSU's Agricultural Experiment Station's main mission is to conduct research for the state's agricultural industries. With locations in Carrington, Casselton, Dickinson, Hettinger, Langdon, Minot, Streeter and Williston, Trilogy Networks' and Grand Farm's findings will be implemented statewide. "These types of solutions are exciting because it's going to advance what we've known for almost 100 years," Casey said.

Swaminathan cited North Dakota's "awesome ecosystem of ag-tech companies and research" as a key reason for bringing the rural cloud computing initiative to the state. Grand Farm Director Brian Carroll was optimistic cloud computing technology would eliminate the "digital divide" between farmers and computer scientists.

While Grand Farm and Emerging Prairie provide agricultural expertise, Trilogy Networks brings its networking capabilities. "Our cloud infrastructure and the agricultural solutions from Grand Farm . . . is truly a great combination," Swaminathan concluded.

Thomas Evanella is a reporter for The Forum. He's worked for The Forum for over three years, primarily reporting on business news. He's also the host of the InForum Business Beat podcast, which can be streamed at or wherever you listen to your podcasts. Reach him at or by calling 701-241-5518. Follow him on Twitter @ThomasEvanella.
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