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Data Conversations

This week the Open Ag Data Alliance got its start with charter partners that included two top cooperatives that work closely with farmers all the time - GROWMARK and Winfield. There is a lot of talk about data privacy and control of your information and that is important.

The challenge you face is making the most of your information. In our February cover feature we started that conversation about key issues regarding the cloud and it's future...this latest information continues that conversation.

OADA is going to be a hub or clearing house for data sharing standards, with an eye toward protecting your data and setting standards about how your data can be used. The key is control and who has that control.

Essentially you collected that information so at the end of the day that raw information is hours. The challenge is not to hold onto it so tightly that you're reviewing your information in a vacuum. Allowing your information to be aggregated for benchmarking and trend analysis can provide you valuable information for helping to build yields.

Does spoon feeding nitrogen make a difference? We think it does, we know anecdotally that farmers have seen better yields, but how would we know. What if you could scrape just that piece of information from across corn country and analyze it without putting a name, face or actual direct field to the discussion.

That's aggregation, and it can be a powerful tool for determining what works and what doesn't. During the media announcement for OADA this week, Aaron Ault, an Indiana farmer who is heading up the newly formed organization, talked about cover crops on hie farm, saying he didn't have enough information to know if there was a payback. 

Looking at the cover crop data layer, along with crop yield and other information across a range of farms could net Ault that information, but he would still want to control his farm data. The key is creating a data-sharing system where key information can be shared yet you retain ownership of ask you collect, or have collected, on your farm.

I'm hopeful that OADA will be able to create the standards and systems the industry needs, the early players in the new organization represent a wide range of agriculture and understand the data challenge. Going forward I expect a lot more conversation on this score.

And it would help as well if other major players are part of the effort. An industry-wide approach to farm data management and security will be important.

Going forward, while OADA gets rolling, you should spend some time with the privacy policies of the companies you work with and understand what they are saying about your data. Of course you always have your raw data in hand (and backing that up is critical), but how you share it with others is important.

And the value proposition for your farm is important too. What companies can do with your information may have a payoff for you too, just understand the benefits you get in return.

Got a question or comment, just drop it in the comment area and I'll work to find an answer.

Learn more about OADA at their website -

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