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Making money on farm data

The Farmobile LLC product is a simple setup The orange PUC connects to the machine using the gray cable that links to the machinersquos ISOBUS plug The black antenna wire goes outside the machine for GPS correction
<p>The Farmobile LLC product is a simple setup. The orange PUC connects to the machine using the gray cable that links to the machine&rsquo;s ISOBUS plug. The black antenna wire goes outside the machine for GPS correction.</p>
Innovative system collects your data but allows you to make money with companies that use it.

Cloud data systems offer many ways to collect informa­tion from your farm. For 2015, at least one player that’s moving from beta testing to commercial use is offering a different take on the value of the data collected: They’ll pay you.

Farmobile LLC, founded and financed by Jason Tatge, is a data collection system that plugs into the ISOBUS connection in your machine. It grabs information including speed, RPM, acres covered, maintenance data and more, and sends it to a Farmobile cloud.

“There’s also real-time information fleet management,” says Tatge, who shows a sprayer in the field live. “You can see his speed and the engine rpm as he operates, and you can see where he’s spraying.”

A central console on a tablet gathers information from the machines in the field in real-time. The data is stored for later review, or to share with other software or advisers.

Tatge, who founded Farms Technology and later sold it to DuPont Pioneer, saw a different opportunity in this cloud-based data world. Farmer data has value, and if farmers choose to monetize their data, then they’ll share in the value. “They have to opt in for us to market their data, but if they do opt in, we’ll split the revenue from sharing that data 50-50 with the cus­tomer,” he says.

How it works

Tatge has more than 230 systems in the field collecting information from coop­erating farmers. The bright-orange box connects to the ISOBUS receptacle in the cab of the machine, with a small antenna placed on the cab roof. The system is brand-agnostic, offering you the ability to collect data from any machine on the farm. One system can be shared across multiple machines, or indi­vidual units can be put in each machine.

The system can collect every piece of data that goes through the on-board CANbus network. “There’s actually a lot more information we could collect, but it would take too much bandwidth to do that,” Tatge says.

Initially there was no flash drive or USB port for connecting the system to get information, but the next-generation model will have a USB interface. Tatge almost cringes when he men­tions that enhancement. “I didn’t want to use USB ports,” he says. “But sometimes you have to bring in additional outside information to make the electronic farm record more valuable.”

The unit works with machinery that’s made from 2003 on. The more extensive the ISO connection, the more information the system can collect.

Cost for each unit is $2,500, plus the cellular service charge, which can be $750 yearly. Tatge is working on ways to manage that cellular cost. “There are times of the year where we need a lot of bandwidth, and other times when the unit sits idle.”

Data value

As for the data collected? “We’re getting a lot of interest from potential buyers of this information,” Tatge says. “And the in­terest is coming not just from ag companies, but from others interested in agricultural data.”

Tatge hasn’t sold any information yet, but the agreement with farmers is that if they opt in and he sells that data, farm­ers will get value for the information. How the data is sold is still being worked out. He says some buyers may want user-identified information, revealing the farm where the data was collected, while others might want aggregated data, showing big-picture trends from a number of farms.

“We want to be the board of trade of data,” Tatge says. “We would be the independent provider of information for the market and offer value to the farmers that provide that in­formation.”

Is data a new income stream for your farm? It’s too soon to tell, but Farmobile is going to try to answer that question.

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