In the last two decades, the land farms world has inconspicuously been introduced to data accumulation technology thanks to the technology explosion. Farm equipment manufactures incorporated, data capturing systems into their tractors and farm machinery. Soil moisture levels, plant growth stage and may other data is captured as the tractor moves. Also the big farms began utilizing programming applications to deal with their field operations. This has resulted in capture of huge farm data in the last decade.
In parallel, there is also gigantic amount of data (in Exabytes) from other sources in the field of Weed management, Pest management and Crop disease management. Add that to the location specific weather and soil data, we have really big data streams available for analytics.
This presents a tremendous opportunity of taking Precision agriculture to the next level by the application of data science. Preliminary studies clearly demonstrate that utilizing the above technologies the yield- per- acre has significantly improved. For instance a major study conducted by the Precision Institute in cooperation with the American Soybean Association (ASA) demonstrated a 15% savings on seed, fertilizer, and chemicals. Additionally, there are multiple studies conducted by USDA that shows that the use of precision agriculture technology and data science brought the water consumption down in the fields by a whopping 50%.
The leading organizations in the industry have already sensed the real economic value of the Ag Data and the enormous business potential of turning this farming data to dollars. Subsequently we can witness a series of investments and acquisitions happening in this space.
John Deere is the pioneer and visionary in this space and launched Farm Sight in early 2011 with focus on machine optimization, farming logistics and decision support for the farmers. AGCO followed suit and launched Fuse Technologies platform in 2013 with an open approach wherein integration and connectivity across the farm assets is made possible, regardless of the brand. Later, AGCO and DuPont Pioneer announced a global collaboration that will allow seamless interface of data and farm management information between AGCO equipment and EncircaSM services of Pioneer. In the meanwhile, Monsanto made news by a big acquisition, when they bought Climate Corporation Company for $1 billion. Climate Corporation founded by an ex-Google employee has innovative Agro-data analytics products like Nitrogen Advisor. The selling point of Nitrogen Advisor is that it promises an extra profit of $ 100 /acre to the farmer at a subscription rate of $15 acre. Also, Monsanto built their proprietary solution called IFS (Integrated Farming System) which assimilates extensive data on their hybrids and combines with farmer’s soil types, yield data and soil test data. In short, today in the Ag-industry, the “corn-ered’ giants seems to be recovering fast for a fight—a fight for the first mover advantage.And “Data seems to be the new fertile Soil” that everyone wants to capture, dig into and plant their investments, expecting a financial harvest in the coming decades.