Western View: Just What is Ag Big Data

Taylor Hillman Features, Western View

Big Data is a new crop that farmers are growing now, often without even being aware of it. Yet it’s a crop that has value, and farmers need to protect that value so they can harvest the rewards from providing big data.

Western View

Just what is your farm’s agricultural big data? It’s the accumulation of information of anything affecting your harvest. This includes:

Agronomic Data. This is information about activities and conditions in the field such as soil analysis, nutrient information, types of plants, and yield.

Machine Data. This is how well your equipment is functioning.This includes repair costs, fuel consumption, diagnostic codes encountered, machine condition, and engine performance.

And the weather Data, preferably at your site gathered by your personal weather station.

This is important and valuable information – not just to you, of course you need it to run your farm – but also to all kinds of farm service companies. Having access to this information gives them the ability to discover trends and find patterns, and make projections on yield, as well as all the pesticides, fertilizers and additives that all the farms in a given geographic area might need. Putting all this data together tells the story of your farm and the successful management of your crops.

This story is so vital that middle-man operations are springing up that collect these stories and put them together to resell to the big boys. These companies – known as Agricultural Technology Providers – are on the forefront of this information revolution. Obviously, there are many sources of information – everything from pesticide advisers, soil consultants, equipment maintenance operations, and your local weather man tells part of the story. How well that story is told will control how useful is the data.

Big Data is becoming very important to many people. The Farm Bureau is concerned about rights of farmers are protected, and has created a task force to establish privacy and security principles for Farm Data. They believe farmers own the data generated on their own operations, and should have agreements with Ag Tech Providers which clearly lay out the type of data being collected, It should only be disclosed and used with the express written consent of the farmer.

Farm Bureau has put together a paper that explains their concerns and the actions they recommend. For more information go to fb.org and take a look at the Farm Bureau Big Data Resources page.

I’m Len Wilcox and that’s the Western View from AgNet West.