Farmers are concerned about their data. Companies see the value of working with farmers to maximize that data to help them improve yields, but the two can be at cross purposes unless there's a framework of secure methods for sharing information in ways that work for both. In January, the Climate Corporation, owned by Monsanto, announced it would create the Open Ag Data Alliance that would aim to create a framework for data interchange for the industry.
Tuesday, during a media teleconference, the Open Ag Data Alliance got its official start. Initial members of the group include AgReliant Genetics, CNH Industrial - which includes New Holland and Case IH; Climate Corporation, Gromark, Valley Irrigation, Wilbur-Ellis Company, Winfield and Purdue University's Open Ag Technology Group, which will be taking the lead on OADA.
The project lead for OADA, from Purdue, Is Aaron Ault who is himself an Indiana farmer with data management concerns. He outlined some key parts of the new group's mission including helping farmers gather all the data from across the farm in ways that make the information useful, provide farmers control over what happens to their data and create a framework for secure data management to protect farmer data privacy.
"We're going to work to develop protocols," Ault says. "The farmer owns the data collected on his farm by his equipment and his employees."
Managing all the data collected on the farm is no easy task, especially since different companies use different ways of transmitting and sharing information. Alliance members see the importance of having ways to work with farmers to maximize that data, while still protecting the integrity of the data and helping farmers maintain their ownership of the information. OADA is going to develop standards that can help this data sharing work for all parties.
Mike Vandelot, Winfield, comments that farmers need to be in control of their data and where it goes. "They need confidence in where the information is going and how it may be aggregated and what they get back," he says. "It's a value proposition and can provide insight to manage their crops better - it makes absolute sense to farmers."
Ault says he has the same concerns about data he collects on his farm, noting he makes a lot of decisions on his operation for which he has little data to back up. For example, he's using cover crops but has trouble determining the true payback of the practice. "I'd like to know if I'm making that money back and the data I have available today doesn't make that possible," he notes.
He adds that OADA will not sell a product, provide cloud storage, become a lobbying organization or endorse any products. It will, however, conduct software tests in accordance with the goals of providing an open standard for data sharing.
The group has created its "data hub" website where interested programmers and engineers can start the conversation toward open-standard approaches. That doesn't mean that every company will have to change its equipment to work with OADA standards, but programming would be available that allows open and safe sharing of data across platforms.
During the media call, David Friedberg, CEO, Climate Corporation, notes that OADA is an independent body that will work with all ag platforms to work toward a shared interoperability. "For farmers to get the most value out of their data they must also control it and move it easily and without extra cost," he says.The new data hub is live at openag.io where you can also find the guiding principles for the organization - check out openag.io/principles/