After a busy, but fun week at the 2013 Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois, I'm now getting caught up on the huge list of new products at this year's show. One thing that stood out is how advancements in technology apply to modern farming. The big thing I've been hearing about is the cloud – a venue now being used to manage precision data.
Nearly all of the precision data exhibits I visited had recently unveiled a new program to send data files directly from the machine to the home desktop, storing the files in the cloud, a virtual server that doesn't exist physically but connects multiple sources at the same time. This provides an opportunity to back up files to an intangible source, rather than a flash drive, which could be lost. This also helps ensure data is uniform, rather than using different formats, and for some, an openness of different monitors.
One of the big topics surrounding precision data management is security, and the big question is, who can see and handle the information once it's in the cloud? Some examples mentioned the use of a third party whose task is solely to protect this data to ensure it can only be seen and updated by the original uploader, the farmer.
Of course, another question is, where is this technology heading next? As far as I know, and based on the exhibitors I spoke with at the Farm Progress Show, the next big step precision data companies are moving toward is monitoring implements in the field and displaying their progress on a screen separate from the machine. To put it more clearly, this would be monitoring two combines in the field at once from the home office, and monitoring one machine from the cab of another, also called fleet tracking.