InfoAg 15: Why Not Try Military Philosophy On Your Farm?

Scheduled to deliver an hour-long talk at the upcoming InfoAg 2015 (July 28-30) conference, Punch Moulton, senior director of cyberspace strategies, innovation and consulting, Stellar Solutions, Inc., drew on his military operations background – the former Air Force fighter pilot and commander rose as high as Director of Operations, U.S. European Command, throughout his 33 year civil service career – to come up with his unique approach to total farm management, dubbed the Agriculture Operations Center (AGOC).

Basically the AGOC is an effort to bring all data-centric precision activities – aerial, UAV and satellite imagery, traditional scouting, weather, soil and advanced analytic data – under one umbrella of control and management.

“This approach is hardly new, as it comes from our U.S. Air Force and originated back in the 1940s,” explains Moulton in a white paper he recently released. “Until the middle of World War II, the US Army Air Corp hadn’t figured out how to coordinate and integrate airpower. ‘Lessons from Kasserine Pass’ led to the idea of an ‘Air Operations Center’ (AOC). Over the next few decades, the Air Force refined the concept, and in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm, the AOC demonstrated the decisiveness of coordinated airpower. Kuwait was liberated in historically rapid fashion by the application of “effects-based” airpower. An AGOC, thus, is the heir of 60+ years of critical thinking from our nation’s Airmen.”

Moulton goes into a bit more depth on his upcoming InfoAg presentation in a recent email Q&A with Precision Ag Special reports, explaining that “utilizing an ‘effects-based’ construct is critically relevant to Precision Ag because it allows an AGOC to leverage technology and focus on the specific needs of the individual farmer (and each individual field). The result is that specific ‘actions’ are implemented to create desired ‘effects’ leading to the goal of increased yields and profits while preserving resources.”

Still a bit fuzzy on this whole AGOC thing? Moulton continued to expound on the concept in our interview.

“The AGOC will take all the disparate capabilities necessary to make Precision Ag work (computation, satellite imagery, UAVs, big data integration, sensors, etc.) and combine them so the grower can turn to one source for his integrated planning and execution,” he explains. “And while it is true that the farmer is the ultimate target customer of the AGOC, the Ag Retailer and the Independent Crop Consultant are part of the process, and that’s really the beauty of the AGOC. It blends in the external resources of retailers, consultants, data analysts, etc. so their services are integrated, and thus better, for the farmer.”

AGOC also has potential applications in helping growers manage Big Data.

“The AGOC is a fusion center,” says Moulton. “It starts with a strategy and plan to get the right information to answer the key questions for a grower (nutrient status, crop status, water, etc.). Then it executes the plan. Most important, the AGOC has the ability to turn to the big data experts to blend in a broader awareness and additional capabilities from a wide variety of sources. The collaborative capability to merge the data and extract the vital information for the grower is the power of the analytical portion of the AGOC.”

If you can make it to St. Louis for InfoAg, check out Moulton’s presentation on 7/29/15 at 4:00 pm CST in Grand Ballroom C. Register for the show here.

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