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Big Data and its role in agriculture

Recently the House Ag Committee held a hearing exploring issues surrounding Big Data and Matt Rushing from Agco was on hand
<p>Recently the House Ag Committee held a hearing exploring issues surrounding Big Data and Matt Rushing from Agco was on hand.</p>
Agco&#39;s Matt Rushing testifies on House Ag Committee about the challenges and opportunities of collecting data on farms. He offers Farm Industry News some perspective about the hearing and some key issues discussed.

Last week, the House Agriculture Committee held a public hearing to examine big data and its role in agriculture, specifically on how to best use, collect, and protect this data.

As stated in the Agriculture Committee’s news release dated October 28:

While advances in agricultural technology present opportunities like improved productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness, they also present challenges in collecting, managing, and utilizing big data. Members and witnesses discussed these dynamics and the future of agricultural innovation at this morning’s hearing.

Today, AGCO Corporation will publish a blog post at outlining the testimony of Matt Rushing, vice president of AGCO Corporation’s Advanced Technology Solutions (ATS) product line, who spoke before the committee on the innovations and implications of Big Data and Agriculture

Rushing spoke today with Farm Industry News to provide farmers with some takeaways from his testimony. 

How did this committee hearing come about? 

AGCO was contacted by the House Ag Committee directly asking if we would be one of five invited witnesses, and the only machinery company on the panel.

What was the crux of your testimony?

It was an information hearing for the members of the committee so, in a nutshell – we wanted to convey the huge, exciting opportunity we have before us in terms of what big data can do (and is already doing for some) for agriculture and helping growers improve their productivity. AGCO asserts that the farmer owns his or her data, and it is up to us leaders in the industry to help them access, process and utilize it. We wanted to let the Committee know about some of the great industry initatives already underway to help accomplish these things in a standardized way such as AgGateway and the SPADE and ADAPT projects of which we are proud to be a part.

What are the challenges facing farmers?

Understanding what farm data is and how they can harness it to improve their operations. Varying data formats is another challenge – this is what initatives like SPADE, ADAPT and the AEF Database seek to address. Also the learning curve of technologies and tools that help farmers collect, transfer and make sense of their data.

Why do equipment companies have a vested interest in this?

Equipment must be built to accurately record and transfer data, and implement the plans that come from data analysis.  It’s the machinery that ultimately engages with the ground to execute on the promise of big data.   At AGCO we factor this into every new machine we develop – making sure we help our customers capture and utilize both machine data and agronomic data.

What is Agco’s stake in this? What is the end result you are hoping to achieve?

AGCO wants to ensure we offer the technologies and services that help our customers increase their productivity, efficiency, yields and profits. We take the open approach in this regard – we are always looking for new industry partners to connect our machines with so that our customers can work with their other trusted service providers to help them process and use their data. We have set up two separate data ‘pipelines’ for our customers’ data to flow through – one for machine data and one for agronomic data. Because we aren’t interested in our customers’ sensitive agronomic data, we can’t see and don’t ask for it. If customers want to opt out of sharing their machine data with us (e.g. fuel consumption, engine load and other machine-only parameters), they certainly can. If they choose to share it with us, we’ll use it, with permission, to deliver services (we call them Fuse Connected Services) and we’ll look at it in aggregate to help develop better machines. But we firmly believe if the farmer doesn’t want to share any of it with us, he or she should not have to.

What is the farmer’s stake in this? What will be the impact on them?

Many farmers are already harnessing the power of their data. Many are just starting down the path. The farmer wants to protect himself, and get the most out of his data. He needs to understand what farm data is, and how his data is managed and who can see it.

What is the take-home for farmers? Or, what do you advise them to do in relation to these talk?

The big data revolution in farming is here – now it’s time to get on board, and start realizing how beneficial data can be to your operation. It can be a confusing space, but your equipment dealer and other service providers can help you navigate through it – and gain efficiency, productivity, yields and profits.

Check out written testimonies from the hearing along with the archived webcast.

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