Launch of OADA supports farmer/data privacy

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The Open Ag Data Alliance (OADA) announced its launch with support and participation from the following organizations:

  • AgReliant Genetics, the third largest corn seed company and a leader in seed innovation in the United States, offering six seed brands across the U.S.
  • CNH Industrial, a global leader in capital goods, offering a full range of agricultural equipment to farmers around the world under the Case IH and New Holland brands
  • The Climate Corporation, a leading agricultural data science company helping farmers get the most out of every acre through hardware, software and decision support services
  • Growmark, an agricultural cooperative providing agronomy, energy, facility planning, and logistics products and services in more than 40 states and Ontario, Canada
  • Purdue University’s Open Ag Technology Group, researching agricultural technologies to improve the efficiency and productivity of modern agricultural systems
  • Valley Irrigation, the worldwide leader in precision irrigation, providing the Valley brand of center pivot, linear, and corner equipment with advanced solutions for conserving water and meeting the growing demand for food and bio-based products
  • Wilbur-Ellis Company, an international agricultural company and recognized leader in the distribution and marketing of field technology, nutrition, plant protection and seed products across more than 250 crop segments
  • WinField, one of the nation’s top suppliers of seed, plant nutrition and crop protection products with unmatched agronomic expertise and data driven insights, enabling every field to optimize its yield potential

The application of data science in modern production agriculture has the potential to improve crop yields and use natural resources more efficiently by enabling farmers to evaluate past, current and future farm management decisions through the analysis of agronomic data generated in the field. However, a significant barrier to the adoption of these new technologies is the incompatibility of data formats between platforms and inconsistent approaches to data security and privacy.

Farmers deserve a clear understanding of the security and privacy standards service providers follow in the use and management of the farmer’s data. To that end, the OADA will develop protocols and will create security and privacy working groups that collaborate with other stakeholders to ensure farmer peace of mind regarding the protection and use of their data across a broad range of business policies and practices.

“OADA will work to ensure farmers can move their data seamlessly and securely between their equipment, software and services by speeding the development of technical standards for data formatting and interoperability that will be openly developed, and shared,” said David Friedberg, The Climate Corporation’s CEO, who announced the company’s intent to support the formation of the OADA in an announcement earlier this year. “In addition, OADA will work to provide the technology capabilities necessary to support security and privacy rules that farmers and community groups need in order to ensure that farmer data is wholly respected and protected by all software and organizations the farmer selects. Central to the alliance’s work is the guiding principle that each farmer owns data generated or entered by the farmer, their employees or by machines performing activities on their farm.”

Aaron Ault has joined OADA as the project lead. Ault is senior research engineer for the Open Ag Technology Group at Purdue and a farmer himself. “I’m very pleased to be facilitating the open standards software development in OADA, which I view as a natural extension of the work we have done in Purdue’s Open Ag Technology Group,” Ault said. “As a farmer, I need the freedom to select the right hardware, software and services for my operation. The open standards of OADA will give farmers the flexibility and control they need to choose data science products and services that will work on their farms to help manage their data and make more data-driven decisions, enabling the next wave of agricultural production.”  

The Open Ag Technology Group’s work at Purdue combines the academic disciplines of agricultural and biological engineering, electrical and computer engineering, and computer science to research all elements of agricultural technology, from mobile and cloud applications to farm machinery. The group has been supported by individual farms, the agriculture industry, and the USDA-NIFA through several grants. Professors Jim Krogmeier and Dennis Buckmaster co-lead the group and support their involvement in OADA. “For farmers to be able to take full advantage of the value their data can provide to their farming operations, they need to have the ability to use that data across multiple platforms. We’re pleased that Purdue’s Open Ag Technology Group will be involved in the furthering of an open standards technology project that gives farmers security and choice in the marketplace,” Krogmeier said.

“The Climate Corporation looks forward to participating in the alliance with the initial participants, and to welcoming additional agriculture organizations, farmers, engineers, and companies as participants in this important work,” Friedberg said.

The OADA is open to anyone interested in building open standards data transfer tools in agriculture, including: existing agriculture organizations, farmers, software engineers, academics, and private companies. There is no cost to participate.

Initial OADA participants shared their perspectives on the value they believe the alliance will provide for farmers and why their organization is part of OADA’s founding group.

Craig Newman, president and CEO of AgReliant Genetics, supports the mission of the OADA.  “As a leader in seed research, production and quality, AgReliant works hand-in-hand with farmers to meet the growing demand for agricultural production. In order to fully adopt these new technologies and continue to increase crop yields, farmers need assurances that they control the data they generate on their farm and the ability to use that data to benefit their operations. We’re proud to be a part of this effort and to work with a forward-thinking institution such as Purdue on this project.”

“Precision technologies are revolutionizing agriculture, and producers are using them more and more to reduce input cost, improve yields, and increase efficiencies,” said Dave Larson, CNH Industrial vice president agricultural equipment portfolio strategy. “Our Case IH and New Holland brands both offer advanced precision technologies that help farmers use their data to farm better and smarter. OADA expressly acknowledges and protects the producer ownership of data, while also providing an open industry standard for secure data sharing, allowing producers to achieve the full value of both their data and our technologies so they can better manage their farming operation. CNH Industrial is proud to be a co-leader in the open but secure exchange of producer data through the OADA initiative, without the compromise to the producer, and hindrance to industry innovation, of proprietary systems.”

Ron Milby, GRrowmark executive director of agronomy marketing said, “Growmark offers products and services to its customers, from fuel and fertilizer to grain handling, storage, marketing, and risk management. We believe OADA will help our members and customers move their information across different platforms, better enabling the information services we provide to help farmers get the greatest return from the data they generate on their farms.”

“At Valley, we are merging cutting-edge technology with the most reliable brand of mechanized irrigation in the world,” said Andy Smith, Valley Irrigation’s director of industry relations. “The irrigation systems we build today are capable of applying water in precise doses with surgical precision, but optimum efficiency can only be achieved when applications are directed by precise, accurate and timely information. The OADA vision of secure, farmer-directed, interoperable agricultural data systems is critical to unlocking the next generation of farm productivity and efficiency.  We look forward to supporting this collaboration.”

“Supporting OADA aligns well with our mission statement: To provide the most advanced crop production technology with the goal of maximizing our customers’ return on investment,” said Mike Wilbur, director of field technologies of Wilbur-Ellis. “Our customers are facing increasing demands to participate in various food security, compliance and sustainability programs, in addition to their ongoing needs to find efficiencies in production practices. We have built our field technology platform, AgVerdict, with the primary purpose of meeting our customers’ needs. To fulfill those needs, our development team built tools to utilize a wide variety of data sources to provide the most advanced strategic decision toolkit. OADA will lead to increased innovation across our industry, which ultimately benefits our customers and the consumers of their products. We firmly believe growers should own, control and have full transparency on how their information is being used.”

“As a cooperative ag retail system, we have an extraordinary responsibility to support the well-being of our farmer owners. We feel it is our job to protect farmers’ agronomic data, while enabling responsible use to generate value for them,” said Mike Vande Logt, WinField executive vice president and chief operating officer. As a data-driven organization, we have invested considerably in our Answer Plot research program and R7 Tool to deliver quality agronomic data to farmers and retailers from over one million replicated plots at 200 locations across North America. The breadth of this proprietary data combined with the farmer’s shared data provides the most robust insights to help farmers optimize ROI on any field. The standards and protocols created through OADA will help us take the first step in providing insights from this combined data set through secured protocols.”

More information can be found at: http://openag.io/.


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