Farm Bureau, agri industry unveil database to hold data from hi-tech tractors, tillers and drones

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 215 views 

The American Farm Bureau Federation and a host of other agricultural stakeholders recently unveiled a new data repository that supporters say will give farmers ultimate control over the ever-increasing business data gathered and transmitted by high-tech farm machinery.

The newly formed Agricultural Data Coalition (ADC) will help farmers to better control, manage and maximize the value of the data they collect every day in the fields. Tractors, tilling equipment, planters, sprayers, harvesters and agricultural drones are increasingly connected to the Internet, organizers say. Farmers don’t always have the ability to precisely control where that data goes, nor transfer it from one data processor to another.

“Farmers must retain ownership and control of the private agricultural data that originates from the work they do in their fields,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said. “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.”

The ADC is the result of years of planning and coordination by AFBF, Auburn University, Ohio State University, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, AGCO, CNH Industrial, Crop IMS, Raven Industries, Mississippi State University and Topcon Positioning Systems Inc.

The goal of the ADC, a non-profit venture, is to build a national online repository where farmers can securely store and control the information collected by their tractors, harvesters, aerial drones and other devices. Over time, that data can then be scrubbed, synced and transmitted in an efficient and uniform way to third parties – whether researchers, crop insurance agents, government officials, farm managers, input providers or any trusted advisor the farmer chooses.

“The key is that farmers are in complete control, and they decide who is allowed access to their data,” said ADC Interim Executive Director Matt Bechdol. “That’s what sets ADC apart. This is not about profit for others; it’s about streamlining data management, establishing clear lines of control, and helping growers utilize their data in ways that ultimately benefit them.”

The Arkansas Farm Bureau chapter is part an independent trade group governed by and representing farm and ranch families across the U.S.

In addition to the new data repository, the Farm Bureau and a coalition of major farm organizations, commodity groups and agriculture technology providers (ATPs) debuted the Ag Data Transparency Evaluator on March 3 to help farmers understand how their data will be used when they adopt precision agriculture technologies.

New technologies and products are constantly entering the marketplace and generating millions of bits of data about farmers’ fields, crops and equipment, officials said. A recent survey found that an overwhelming number of farmers do not know what happens to their data when they use these new technologies.

The evaluator requires participating ATPs to answer 10 key questions about their technology products’ use and control of farmer data. A third-party administrator then reviews the answers and determines whether the products meet the standards of transparency set by the Privacy and Security Principles for Farm Data (Data Principles). Products that meet the standards will receive the “Ag Data Transparent” seal to be displayed on promotional materials and product pages. Additionally, farmers can go to the Transparency Evaluator website to see and compare all the products and services that have undergone the evaluation.

The Ag Data Transparency Evaluator is non-profit corporation governed by a board of directors from the participating organizations. The corporate bylaws require that all actions be approved by the farmer-led organizations, making the evaluator truly a farmer-driven initiative not controlled by the ATPs whose products are reviewed.

Link here to learn more about the Ag Data Transparency Evaluator and to see the full list of 10 questions.