Big Data project to help farmers

Leading Iowa farm and commodity organizations are supporting an ambitious project they say will harness the power of agricultural data to the benefit of farmers. The Big Data Strategy and Implementation Plan, backed by Iowa AgState and developed by The Hale Group of Danvers, Mass., will begin by obtaining relevant facts about how ag data is collected, shared, analyzed and used.

Big Data project to help farmers

 

Leading Iowa farm and commodity organizations are supporting an ambitious project they say will harness the power of agricultural data to the benefit of farmers. The Big Data Strategy and Implementation Plan, backed by Iowa AgState and developed by The Hale Group of Danvers, Mass., will begin by obtaining relevant facts about how ag data is collected, shared, analyzed and used.

After that, a strategy and action plan will be formulated by year’s end. The strategy will enable farmers to better understand their data, industry strategies and the objectives of Big Data. Farmers will also learn how to best capture the value of the data they produce without compromising proprietary information and intellectual property rights.

The Hale Group defines “Big Data” as structured and unstructured data, whose scale, diversity and complexity require new techniques and analytics to manage, interpret, and extract knowledge from it.

Brian Kemp, Iowa Soybean Association president and AgState chairman, says Big Data isn’t a new issue for agriculture. However, the ability to collect, interpret and manipulate data has increased exponentially, requiring immediate action.

“This project will be conducted at the strategic level addressing many components, namely data ownership and control,” says Kemp, who farms near Sibley in northwest Iowa. “By harnessing the knowledge of existing data and how it can be used, farmers can influence policy more effectively, develop appropriate user and privacy agreements, and drive mutually beneficial relationships with those whom we do business.”

Key Points

Iowa AgState has hired a consulting firm to develop a “Big Data” strategy.

Firm will come up with a plan to harness the power of agricultural data.

Goal is to help farmers reap benefits of data collection and analysis.

How will farmers benefit?

Kemp says the project will support education on opportunities of Big Data, help farmers understand and evaluate Big Data business models and how to use the data, empower farmers as participants in discussions on issues of Big Data, and provide information to inform and influence Big Data policies, regulations and technology.

Dean Lemke, nutrient management and environmental stewardship director for the Agribusiness Association of Iowa and member of the AgState Big Data task force, says the Iowa project will complement other regional and national projects focused on similar concerns and opportunities. “The Hale Group has unique capabilities to do the work to benefit the greater industry,” he says. “They’ll do a thorough job of gathering information from many sources on the topic of Big Data, define what’s most meaningful to farmers and how farmers can capitalize on it, and then share these findings with all stakeholders.”

Lemke adds, “Ultimately and collectively, a better understanding and use of data will help farmers continuously improve. It will also give farmers a voice and leverage in matters that affect their business.”

Bob Ludwig of The Hale Group says farmers do not want to “stop Big Data” but influence the way it’s developed and rolled out to growers. “It will bring great benefits to agriculture and the world at large,” he says. “But it needs to be monitored to make sure it’s fair to farmers.”

Formed in 1997, AgState is a group that involves leadership of all segments of Iowa agriculture to develop a proactive, futuristic vision and an action plan to help make that vision a reality.

Members include the Agribusiness Association of Iowa, Iowa State Dairy Association, Midwest Dairy Association, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Corn Promotion Board, Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Institute for Cooperatives, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Poultry Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa State University, Iowa Turkey Federation, Iowa Economic Development Authority, and Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

Source: Iowa AgState

This article published in the July, 2014 edition of WALLACES FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2014.

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