Big Data Can Help With Farming Decisions

Data science is a new driving force in agriculture.

According to USDA, U.S. farmers spent more than $367 billion on agricultural production in 2013.

Matt Darr with Iowa State University says about two-thirds of every dollar spent on agriculture is focused on decisions of seed selection, fertility, and land access. Mass amounts of data could have an influence on those decisions.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach plans to hold an Ag Big Data conference on August 25th discussing the uses and concerns of Big Data.

Darr says there’s a lot of value in new data collecting technology like aero imagery. He thinks it’s important for farmers to consider using the information they collect to their advantage.

“An average producer’s got 40 years to grow a crop, right, that’s a career. If you think about, I golf once a year and I’m not very good. And yet, we grow corn once a year and we need to be experts.” Darr says, “Because we’re trying to bring all this information together to make the right plan every year and what I would tell an Iowa producer is harvest the value and opportunity of Big Data.”

Many producers have privacy concerns of collecting mass amounts of data. Darr says trusting companies with information is like trusting your bank or seed provider.

He says with modern machines it will be hard to get away from Big Data, “Well, the reality is that technology today is just there. It’s just out there in machinery and it’s not just so much that you are adopting it anymore, if you’re even rolling over machines in the last few years, you’ve got data now it’s just a part of it. It’s like trying to go out and find a flip phone today, there even hard to find.”


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