Big Data in Agriculture

This week we focused on the use of Big Data in agriculture. Big Data is changing the agriculture market and creating sustainable farming. We are always looking for innovation and new start-ups that can lead us to sustainable farming methods.

The Next Big Market for Data and Connected Devices – Agriculture by Stacey Higginbotham on Gigaom

As the local food and sustainable farming movements grow, Big Data is helping farmers grow produce more food at lower costs. Libelium, a sensor-making company, practiced this new use of big data in connected vineyards in Spain. Through the use of Libelium’s sensors, the application of fertilizers decreased by 20% while productivity went up 15%.  Although other factors of production such as weather can’t be changed, the sensors can match current weather patterns to previous weather and select better crops for the change of weather. Similar technology applications are in cattle management. The cows are monitored by sensors and notify farmers what cow needs milking and how long to wait in between.

Seven Big Data Lessons for Farming on Ag Professional

With the rise of Big Data farmers should soon expect to break away from day to day guesswork associated with farming. This “marriage of data and farming” is becoming the new reality for farmers, whether they like it or not. The data collected ranges from soil moisture to nitrogen levels. The use of data will allow farmers to gain a clearer picture of farming, receiving updates of the land in real time and no longer having to guess the next move. However, some argue that no technology could replace farmer’s intuition that has developed through years of experience. Many feel their time is best spent out in the fields rather than staring at a computer screen. The opinions vary but one thing is clear – to use big data, a change of mindset is required.

Farmers embrace Big Data to reduce pollution by Suzy Friedman on GreenBiz

Not only is the use of Big Data meant to increase crop yield per acre, but it could also be used to reduce pollution. WIth real time updates, farmers can monitor their crops closely and and more accurately. By interpreting the data, farmers can become more efficient in the factors of production. For example, the data can monitor pests, which then allows farmers to target problem areas rather than over using pest controls. This can also be seen in the use of fertilizers, which is often carried by runoff water. With constant updates the farmers can monitor what nutrients have been absorbed and which haven’t. The end result is the same; farmers can give the crops the nutrients they require while reducing pollution.

Monsanto brings Big Data to the farm by Martin LaMonica on IEEE Spectrum

Monsanto, known for the its seed portfolio and use of biotechnology, recently bought Climate Corporation, a San Francisco startup, for $930 million. Climate Corporation focuses on unique crop information and insurance for farmers. Using weather and agronomic data, Climate Corporation tells farmers when it’s best to water, spread chemicals and nutrients, and harvest. Additionally the company collects water data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and tracks temperature from National Weather Services – both sets of data are available to the farmer on a web-based platform. With The acquistion of Climate Corporation, Monsanto can begin recommending some of their current products based on the data collected.

OnFarm Wins IBM SmartCamp North America on OnFarm Systems

Just recently IBM named our portfolio company OnFarm one of the two winners of the North America SmartCamp held in Silicon Valley. From there, the two winners will compete in the IBM SmartCamp Global Finals against winners from other regions of the world. OnFarm is a software as a service company that provides farmers with insights and analysis on live data from the farm combined into a single dashboard. Through the platform farmers can monitor crops, reduce costs of farming, but more importantly make better and informed decisions to increase crop yield.

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