Ag industry inches toward data standards

  • Oct 13, 2015
Ag industry inches toward data standards
It’s no secret that farmers want integration and collaboration between precision-agriculture companies, so data tools and software programs can “talk” to each other. But no one tool does everything.
To overcome the integration hurdle, precision ag companies came together recently for a conference on data platforms. We took steps toward developing industry standards and helping growers sort out a plethora of data platform options and providers.
Many farmers continue to use spreadsheets and other manual processes for day-to-day work because they don’t know what data products are available and how they can benefit from incorporating the new tools into their businesses. And it’s not always easy to find technical help, so some farmers make do with older data technology. Some express frustration over having to enter the same data over and over.
Attendees at the Precision Ag Innovation Series conference in Champaign, Ill., discussed what is working, what farmers need and what’s coming in the future. The changes aren’t coming fast enough, many say, but there is encouraging work in this area.
Farmers and others agree on the need for some sort of industry body that will define and govern the standards our industry should follow when it comes to data platforms. WinField is working with two groups that are helping to simplify the exchange of information between software platforms while ensuring that farmers retain data ownership and control. AgGateway aims to expand agriculture e-business and sponsors a council focused on precision ag, while Open Ag Data Alliance helps farmers access and control their data. Together, we are working to standardize data formats and conversions for better compatibility between systems.

WinField is developing a Data Silo to enable secure data transfer and common logins between cloud systems across the agricultural industry. It will end the need to enter similar or identical information multiple times.

Development between ag tech companies is still in its infancy. We advise farmers to keep an open mind about trying new technologies and tools. Look for free trials. Get educated by talking with local retailers, agronomists and by looking online, including accessing forums where people are talking about using the technology. With more knowledge and collaboration, we can arrive at the best data solutions for our industry.