If you care about reducing pesticide use, promoting agricultural biodiversity, and supporting small farmers, then you should also care about who’s amassing agricultural data. That’s the message of a new report from a group of sustainable food policy experts. (No paywall)
Monsanto, the world’s largest seed and ag chemical company, said it has agreed to sell its seed-planter business to farm-equipment maker AGCO. A 2015 deal to sell its Precision Planting unit to Deere and Co. fell apart in the face of an antitrust suit filed by the Justice Department.
In his first trip to Iowa since taking office, President Trump was introduced to high-technology, big-data dependent agriculture and said his $1 trillion infrastructure plan will expand broadband access in rural America. "We will rebuild rural America," said the president, with a prosperous farm sector as the lever for economic growth in rural communities.
The world's largest seed company, Monsanto, said it terminated its November 2015 deal to sell Precision Planting to Deere and Co., the world's largest farm-equipment maker, and was looking for another purchaser. The Justice Department filed an antitrust suit against the sale to Deere, saying it would dominate the market for high-speed planters, which are expected to become the industry standard.
The State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology is building a cloud-based clearinghouse that it hopes will help farmers and others in the food industry "make sense" of the growing mountain of data and "put it to good use," reports The Enterprisers Project.
Climate Corp., a subsidiary of Monsanto, says it will develop its own in-field network of weather and soil monitors—including a sensor that tracks nitrate levels—to broaden its agronomic models that help farmers decide their crop strategies. The nitrate sensor could mean more efficient use of nitrogen fertilizer and less runoff into waterways.
The world's largest farm-equipment manufacturer is buying two companies that make so-called precision planters, which are vital tools in the integration of Big Data into agriculture. Deere and Co announced a deal to buy Precision Planting from Monsanto a day after it said it would acquire Monosem, a European maker of precision planting equipment.
Big Data offers the opportunity for farmers to "instantaneously collect data about almost every facet of their cropping operations from planting through harvest," says Feedstuffs. But Missouri Farm Bureau president Blake Hurst told a House Agriculture subcommittee that producers want assurance of confidentiality or, at a minimum, to know how the information will be used and who else has access to it.
Agricultural production in the developing world could get a boost from precision agriculture and Big Data techniques, said agribusiness executives at the World Food Prize conference in Des Moines according to DTN. Information gleaned from Big Data's detailed collection of crop production across a field can tailor seed, fertilizer and pesticide application rates to maximize yields while controlling production costs.
Rebuffed in an attempt to buy rival Syngenta, Monsanto executives "are seeking to re-position the company as a business built on data science and services, as well as its traditional chemicals, seeds and genetic traits operations," says Reuters after interviewing chief technology officer Robert Fraley.
The Capital Area Food Bank, based in DC, is using Big Data, "a pioneering technology that could one day revolutionize the war on hunger," says the Washington Post.
The USDA's annual Outlook Forum traditionally generates headlines with its projections of U.S. crop production seven months before harvest, a challenging exercise considering the many factors that could intervene. A late-winter surge in commodity prices could sway planting decisions, a cold and rainy spring can force last-minute changes among crops, and a summer drought can destroy crop prospects.
While urban America has nearly universal access to wired broadband, the rate in rural America is 78 percent, according to industry data. USDA's 2012 Census of Agriculture says 70 percent of farms have Internet access but...
With 20,000 acres, Indiana farmer Kip Tom "harvests the staples of modern agriculture: seed corn, feed corn, soybeans and data," says the New York Times.
A dozen farm groups and agribusinesses agreed on a 10 principles for data privacy and security in the emerging field of agricultural Big Data. The agreement follows months of discussions.
During the summer, green slime, also known as blue-green algae, disrupted the water supply for Toledo. Nutrient runoff from farms, especially phosphorus fertilizer, gets part of the blame for feeding the algae blooms.
U.S. farmers say Big Data allows them to reduce costs and boost yields but they also worry the information could wind up in the hands of regulators or could be used by someone else to speculate in the commodity market, says the largest U.S. farm group.
Start-up companies such as FarmLogs and 640 Labs are in the hunt for customers along with agribusiness giants Deere, Pioneer and Monsanto in the new agricultural field of Big Data, says Reuters.
Chicago's public health department "is experimenting with a new technology to guide where (restaurant) inspections should occur, based on factors such as current weather, nearby construction and past health code violations," says the Washington Post in an article on applying so-called Big Data to food safety. New York City's health department "is testing software that scans online reviews...flagging mentions of potential food-poisoning events."