Big data down on the farm
March 4, 2016
by Erica Shaffer
Many agriculture groups are using more data to make it accessible for farmers.
WASHINGTON – Data is fast becoming a priceless commodity produced by farmers, and a new coalition aims to help farmers maximize the value and remain in control of the data generated by farm machinery and other devices.
To do this, the Agricultural Data Coalition (ADC) plans to develop a data repository where farmers can store information collected by their equipment, such as tractors, sprayers, harvesters and aerial drones for example. The ADC is the brainchild of American Farm Bureau Federation, Auburn Univ., CNH Industrial, Crop IMS, The Ohio State Univ., Mississippi State Univ., the Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln, Raven Industries, and Topcon Positioning Group.
“Farmers deposit their asset into a secure location,” Matt Bechdol, ADC executive director, said in a statement. “They manage that asset through the equivalent of an online banking system, and then just like an ATM or an online transaction, ADC is able to transmit the data on the farmer’s behalf wherever the farmer wishes.”
Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said in a statement that farmers must retain ownership and control their data. “Harnessing that proprietary information for field-level efficiency and effectiveness is the key that will unlock more profitability and the greater adoption of precision agriculture. That’s good for business and the environment, too,” Duvall said.
Another tool to help farmers understand the value of their data is the Ag Data Transparency Evaluator which was developed to help producers understand data contracts. The system requires agriculture technology providers to answer 10 questions regarding the data a particular piece of machinery is collecting.
- What categories of data do the technology providers collect from the farmer?
- Will the provider obtain farmers’ consent before providing other companies with access to the data?
- Will the provider notify the farmer if any data breaches resulting in the disclosure of the farmer’s data to an outside party?
A third-party administrator reviews the answers and determines whether the products meet the standards of transparency set by the Privacy and Security Principles for Farm Data that identifies key areas of concern for producers regarding data contracts. The Data Principles were developed in 2014 by a coalition of major farm organizations and commodity groups.