Growth Points: Big data is about to get even bigger

decrease font size  Resize text   increase font size       Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article

“Big data” is a term that’s been getting bigger lately. With groups like Farm Bureau and companies such as Monsanto and John Deere adopting positions, more dialog will come and standards will be sought.

As big data is being more widely considered in agriculture, its potential misuse is drawing more attention. It may be important for you as an ag professional to understand the basics and take a look at your own policy regarding data privacy.

It’s good to remember here that technology is not moral or amoral. It just is. Technology only really does what people use it for, whether good or evil. You can use a cell phone to call your mother every Sunday or you can use it to detonate a bomb. The phone doesn’t care, because, get this now: It CAN’T. Your smartphone just isn’t that smart.

Big data in today’s precision agriculture is the same in this regard. It simply means “computers give us the capacity to record and sort lots of tiny geo-referenced facts we never had the ability to capture and analyze before.” As an ag professional, your ability to help growers turn all those little facts into smarter crop production is the special sauce. Some already have 15 or 20 seasons of data stacked up and more robust data is coming. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are expected to add greatly to the resource called big data.

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) had its annual meeting in January and dealt with big data. A statement out of that meeting shared that farmer delegates “felt so strongly about these matters…that they approved strong policy resolutions” encouraging data privacy. Monsanto recently acquired a data company called Climate Corp., founded by David Friedberg, and Friedberg will now be Monsanto’s data guru.

Friedberg’s take on privacy is available online at: Ag professionals already know about keeping private information private. With the issue of big data gaining more attention, though, retail leaders may want to revisit existing policies regarding privacy of financial data and take necessary steps to cover crop production data. Once policy is clear, coaching employees on how to respond to data privacy questions will help assure customers of your integrity.

Where should retailers, farm managers and bankers come down on the issue of big data and how it’s shared? On one side, you can see ag professionals zealously guarding grower data because of the leverage it provides in keeping your customer YOUR customer. But that could prove risky when valuable data that could significantly help your customer make more money lies outside of your control. The thing about building a wall is that it has the hazard of keeping good things out, too.

If you are an ag retailer considering the blessings and risks of data value held by bigger  companies, you should remember the trump card you hold. In the midst of all this talk about  the cloud, big data and its power, agriculture is still local and precision agriculture is “hyperlocal.” It must come through the door of a relationship. Although more information from  fields near and far can be helpful in shaping decisions on crop inputs and practices, it’s still all about your farmer-customer and his/her individual fields, zones, crops and goals. Season on season, it’s about the size of the crop, profit earned, care of the land and how a grower’s goals were met. In that competition, your data, local knowledge and outstanding service can help make the most of the right data every time.

Buyers Guide

Doyle Equipment Manufacturing Co.
Doyle Equipment Manufacturing prides themselves as being “The King of the Rotary’s” with their Direct Drive Rotary Blend Systems. With numerous setup possibilities and sizes, ranging from a  more...
A.J. Sackett Sons & Company
Sackett Blend Towers feature the H.I.M, High Intensity Mixer, the next generation of blending and coating technology which supports Precision Fertilizer Blending®. Its unique design allows  more...
R&R Manufacturing Inc.
The R&R Minuteman Blend System is the original proven performer. Fast, precise blending with a compact foot print. Significantly lower horsepower requirement. Low inload height with large  more...
Junge Control Inc.
Junge Control Inc. creates state-of-the-art product blending and measuring solutions that allow you to totally maximize operating efficiency with amazing accuracy and repeatability, superior  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The flagship blending system for the Layco product line is the fully automated Layco DW System™. The advanced technology of the Layco DW (Declining Weight) system results in a blending  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The LAYCOTE™ Automated Coating System provides a new level of coating accuracy for a stand-alone coating system or for coating (impregnating) in an automated blending system. The unique  more...
John Deere
The DN345 Drawn Dry Spreader can carry more than 12 tons of fertilizer and 17.5 tons of lime. Designed to operate at field speeds up to 20 MPH with full loads and the G4 spreader uniformly  more...
Force Unlimited
The Pro-Force is a multi-purpose spreader with a wider apron and steeper sides. Our Pro-Force has the most aggressive 30” spinner on the market, and is capable of spreading higher rates of  more...
BBI Spreaders
MagnaSpread 2 & MagnaSpread 3 — With BBI’s patented multi-bin technology, these spreaders operate multiple hoppers guided by independent, variable-rate technology. These models are built on  more...

Related Articles

No matching related articles at this time.

Comments (1) Leave a comment 

e-Mail (required)


characters left

March, 03, 2014 at 03:48 PM

Big Data is surely a big deal. We definitely are seeing an increase in activity with companies responding to the impact big data has made on their business. For companies any size, getting meaningful insights from data analytics is an important priority. LexisNexis has open sourced its HPCC Systems big data platform which represents more than a decade of internal research and development in the big data analytics field. Designed by data scientists, their built-in libraries for Machine Learning and BI integration provide a complete integrated solution from data ingestion and data processing to data delivery. More at

1325 Bushel Grain Cart

Equipped with a 22” computer balanced auger with 5/16” flighting,the unloading speed is 50% faster than smaller grain carts with ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides

Feedback Form
Feedback Form