Data science in farm management is one of the biggest trends to hit both agriculture and Silicon Valley in recent years, with an explosion of technologies emerging to help farmers optimize everything from seeding to irrigation to fertilizer application.
As ag tech products grow more sophisticated, so too has the innovation trend evolved. What began as a slew of single-purpose tools has now evolved to include apps that integrate different types of information to give farmers a “dashboard” view of their land. And it includes new apps that can help multiple farmers pool their data to analyze a crop’s performance across a range of growing conditions, or to benchmark their input costs against one another.
The agriculture sector stands to gain insight from all this data. Farmers need metrics to help them figure out how to increase yields sustainably while improving soil health and protecting natural resources for future generations.
But they have valid concerns about sharing data. Read More
When it comes to technology and agriculture, policymakers are wrestling with the role government should play in protecting the intellectual property rights and privacy of farmers.
This discussion came to a head recently when the House Agricultural Committee held a hearing to examine the impacts of “big data” on the entire agricultural life cycle. With farmers and companies collecting and storing data on everything from fertilizer rate to yield to soil conditions, there are important concerns to consider: Is the data secure? Who owns analyzed data? Will companies sell the data to others or make new products based on sensitive information?
Ahead of this hearing I wrote a blog post detailing the hurdles farmers must overcome to fully integrate data as a way to increase the abundance and sustainability of modern food production. The main challenges I highlighted were:
- Privacy: Farmers need to know they won’t be willingly revealing trade secrets when deciding to share data about their farming techniques.
- Format: Not all data collection platforms use the same language, so a uniform way to understand what is being collected must be created.
- Complexity: Many growers are intimidated by the vast quantity of data they collect, so we have to help them understand what matters and what doesn’t.
Posted in Carbon Market, Supply Chain, Sustainable Agriculture Also tagged agriculture, Apple, carbon market, data privacy, farms, fertilizer, House Agricultural Committee, House Committee on Agriculture, precision ag, public private collaboration, soil, technology
As I wrote earlier this week, data analytics technology has the potential to dramatically change the way we produce food, making it more abundant and sustainable. But a number of obstacles remain.
Here’s how we can address some of the biggest challenges and hasten ag’s big data revolution for the benefit of people and the planet.
1. Protecting privacy
Many growers have told me they are willing to share data – if they know exactly where it’s going and how it will be used, and if they can benefit from the data analysis that occurs. However, big concerns remain about data being used for regulatory compliance purposes, given to rival farmers, or shared with seed and fertilizer companies that would gain a competitive advantage. Read More
Posted in Carbon Market, Ecosystems, Food, Sustainable Agriculture Also tagged agriculture, farmers, fertilizer, food production, food security, soil health, sustainability, technology, United Suppliers, USDA
Almost daily, I see new stories on how agribusinesses, entrepreneurs, and traditional technology companies are making big investments in precision agriculture tools and digital platforms that collect data from farms.
These data include information such as fertilizer rate, prescription accuracy, yield by square foot, seed type, and soil type. When analyzed at a large scale, the data can determine best practices for farm operations to maximize yield and minimize input costs.
This is an exciting trend, with big and small companies alike getting into the data game, and the tools used to collect this data becoming ubiquitous. And although these technologies weren’t necessarily started with sustainability in mind, they have tremendous potential to benefit the environment. Read More
Posted in Carbon Market, Climate, Ecosystems, Food, Sustainable Agriculture Also tagged agriculture, air pollution, Climate Corporation, DuPont, environment, farmers, farming, fertilizer, GHG mitigation, Monsanto, nutrient efficiency, precision agriculture, software, sustainability, technology, Trimble Ag, USDA, water pollution
Thanks to GPS and the Internet, many farmers have been collecting data about their farms – water usage, inputs, crop yields – for over 20 years. Only in recent years has the term “big data” taken on a new meaning, given the plethora of new tools and technologies available today to help farmers collect and analyze data on all aspects of their farm operations.
This week also marks the launch of the first-ever Big Data Roundtable Series, an annual event that brings together experts from across the agricultural arena to discuss how major retailers can leverage data to improve business sustainability, and how growers can utilize measurement tools and analyze data to use fertilizer more efficiently and save on input costs.
Here, I ask Kristin Weeks Duncanson, a crop and livestock operator and member of the AGree advisory committee, to explain the value of collecting data for farm operations and the environment and why many farmers are still hesitant to collect data. Read More
Posted in Ecosystems, Fertilizer, Food, Supply Chain, Sustainable Agriculture Also tagged agriculture, conservation, farmers, farms, fertilizer, food production, measurement, nutrient efficiency, soil health, sustainability
It is no surprise that information has value in the technology age. A recent article in the New York Times spotlights an Indiana farming family to show how information is shaping 21st century agriculture.
Kip Tom, a seventh-generation farmer, is riding the wave of agricultural consolidation that, since the 1980s, has led to bigger farms, bigger technology, and now, bigger data.
Bigger revenues have come along with this transition. Tom says better data analysis has raised his return on investment over seven percent – from 14 percent to 21.2 percent.