Big Data: Managing Your Most Elusive Farm Asset

Big Data: Managing Your Most Elusive Farm Asset

Iowa State University, partnering with national precision ag leaders, will hold a "Big Data" conference Aug. 25 at Ames.

Did you know that over two-thirds of every dollar spent in agriculture is spent on decisions focused on seed selection, fertility and land access?

Farmers annually compile new information on input selections, farming practices and risk management to put together and use an improved production plan each year.

Recently, advances in machine data availability, improved climate modeling, and new technologies such as high resolution crop imagery have enabled new industries to develop around the concept of "Big Data" which is aimed to help farmers better navigate their annual decision process and result in more on-farm productivity and profitability.

HARNESS THE BENEFITS: Big Data isn't a new issue for agriculture. However, with cutting edge technology, the ability to collect, interpret and manipulate data has increased significantly the past few years, notes Matt Darr, ISU professor of ag engineering.

Iowa State University Extension, in partnership with national precision ag leaders, will hold an Ag Big Data conference on August 25, 2014, on the ISU campus at Ames. Big Data is a concept of data-driven and value-added decisions that has been growing in use across agriculture.

As new Big Data products and services are available to producers, questions exist around data privacy, producer value and best practices to engage with this new industry.

Farmers want to harness the power of agricultural data
"New techniques and analytics to collect, interpret and manipulate data are increasing quickly. Farmers and farm organizations are interested in how agricultural data is being collected, shared, analyzed and used," says Matt Darr, an ISU professor of ag engineering and a specialist in precision farming.

"They want to harness that power for the benefit of farmers," he says.

Ag Big Data Conference Agenda >>

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The agenda for the August 25 meeting is packed with knowledge from both university leaders in the area of Big Data as well as producers who are actively using Big Data as part of their day-to-day on-farm decision making process:

* The morning will be kicked off by a message from Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, about the importance of this new industry in the Midwest.

* Dr. Matt Darr, ISU professor of ag engineering, will discuss the producer value opportunity of working with data. He will be joined by producers who will share their story of how they have leveraged data into value added decisions.

* Dr. Shannon Ferrell, Oklahoma State University, will be on-hand to share key details regarding data ownership and privacy, and help educate attendees on how to navigate these issues when engaging in data sharing and data management.

* After lunch Catherine Campbell will share how data is being infused into sourcing decisions with major food processors and retailers like General Mills and Walmart and what data producers should expect to provide in order to meet these future requirements.

* Dr. John Fulton, Auburn University, and Dr. Scott Shearer, The Ohio State University, will jointly lead a discussion on who the major players and partners are within the Big Data space. They will discuss pros and cons of different data services models and provide best management practices for producers to decide what type of data partner is best for their business.

"The day will wrap up with a panel discussion by experienced growers who are actively using Big Data in their decision process," says ISU's Darr. "They will share their success stories and help stimulate ideas for how producers integrated Big Data into farm management practices. All sessions will have planned time for Q&A so bring along your top Big Data questions and get them answered by leaders in this emerging field."

TAGS: Extension
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