Over the years, technology has grown on farms.  For example, are farmers using high-tech screens that show accurate maps that allow for precise adjustments as the seeds go into the ground and screens and sensors that monitor planting?  Technologies like these help farmers plant more accurately and successfully, but the real potential is what happens when the data from thousands of tractors on thousands of farms is collected, aggregated, and analyzed in real time.

The American Farm Bureau Federation takes a look at the growing trend of technology used on farms today.   “What if we took that level of data we have on individual farms and analyzed it across tens or thousands of farms? What macro-level trends would we see?” asks Shannon Ferrell, an associate professor of agriculture law at Oklahoma State University.

Established brands in agriculture such as John Deere, Monsanto, and DuPont are now growing into data-technology companies.  Trimble is a huge player with their wide range of positioning technologies including GPS, laser, optical and inertial technologies with application software, wireless communications and services that provide complete commercial solutions.

Here are a few examples of what big-data analytics make possible on the modern farm:

·         Sensors- tell how effective certain seed and types of fertilizer are in different sections of a farm.

·         Software- instructs the farmer to plant one hybrid in one corner and a different seed in another for optimum yield which can adjust nitrogen and potassium levels in the soil in different patches. 

This gathered information can be provided to companies like Monsanto to improve hybrids.

Big-data firms have the ability to test varieties of seeds across hundreds of fields, soils, and climates.  In the same way Google can identify flu outbreaks based where web searches are originating; analyzing crops across farms helps identify diseases that could ruin a harvest.  This could have a big effect on profitability.  With all this growing technology on the farm, there are many farmers who are worried about security and how these companies could use and profit off of their farms’ data.  Instead some farmers choose to share their data only with small local groups.  Some of the reason for slower acceptance is the argument over who owns and licenses farmers’ data. 

Monsanto on the other hand is trying to persuade more farmers to adopt its cloud services such as The Climate Corporation.  They believe that farmers would benefit most when they allow the company to analyze their data and help them to find the best solutions for each patch of land.  When the farmer provides data he gets better results. 

Even now, farmers want to know exactly where the data is going and want to make sure they are also reaping the profits from big-data back on their own operation.  To read the full article from Business Insider click here.

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