A project started at Purdue University by its Open Ag Technology Group has blossomed into the Open Ag Data Alliance. It debuted days before the Indiana Livestock, Forage and Grain Forum featured a discussion of 'Big Data' and agriculture.
According to Karen Plaut, Purdue's Senior Associate Dean of Agriculture for Research and faculty affairs, the idea is two-fold: guarantee farmers that their data is theirs, and promote compatibility so that data in various formats can communicate and be shared.
"If farmers want to share their data, they should be able to determine who they share it with and for what purposes," she says. "It's their data."
If a third party collects data with permission and increases value by aggregating data together, then that's another step in the process.
"I'm very pleased to be facilitating the open standards software development in OADA," says Aaron Ault, Purdue's Senior Research Engineer for the OAT group, and a farmer. "As a farmer I need the freedom to develop the right hardware, software and services for my operation. OADA will give farmers flexibility and control they need to choose data science products and services that work well on their farms to help manage their data and make more data-driven decisions, enabling the next wave of agricultural production."
Currently those signed on to OADA include AgReliant Genetics, CNH Industrial, The Climate Corporation, GROWMARK, Purdue's OAT group, Valley Irrigation, Wilbur-Ellis Company and WinField.
"The concept is in its infancy," Plaut says. "We need many more partners to join the effort."
If other companies and institutions buy in then the effort may be able to gain momentum and make a difference in how data is handled in the future. That will take time and understanding, and definitely will take more companies and institutions cooperating, Plaut says.
One note – CNH Industrial is now the blanket name for all Case IH products, including farm equipment.