Ag’s Digital Revolution: What’s Holding Us Back?

Data is undeniably a valuable asset. Yet, in the ag ecosystem, who’s seeing the value from it?

A recent article on PrecisionAg.com highlights how growers aren’t seeing value from data since, “The yield map book usually serves as a coaster more than a decision tool.” It’s 2018 and we’re still hearing stories of how growers have thumb drives full of yield data sitting on their shelves — or, at best, visualized on maps.

The notion of data as a valuable asset has led to emotions of fear and distrust when it comes to sharing that information — both among the grower and agtech communities. But here’s the reality: the idea of data possessing intrinsic value is precisely what’s holding back ag’s digital revolution.

Overcoming Ag Obstacles to Unlock Data’s True Value

What’s truly valuable about data? The insights that can be gained from it. As an industry, we need to stop thinking that data in and of itself is valuable since its raw form isn’t solving larger ag problems. In fact, the boots-on-the-ground approach used by forward-thinking companies is based on the very principle that subject matter experts are needed to gather, interpret, and provide insights off of data.

The situation is complicated by the lack of trust that’s prevalent in our industry when it comes to agtech companies — many of which want to own the data, charge per data transaction, and use key learnings from that data to build and market new products back to growers.

In order to harvest insights from data using this approach, agtech companies must ingest and cleanse the data, secure dozens of APIs from different sources, store the data in their own format, and then tackle machine learning and data science to derive actual value. Meanwhile, growers who want to leverage all of the data being generated about their fields must do the same, contacting several different companies just to extract their data.

What our industry needs is a more viable solution for ingesting, cleansing, standardizing, securing, and returning meaningful intelligence from any ag data at large scale. Artificial intelligence (AI) is the key to solving this challenge.

Industrial AI is Paying Dividends for First Movers

At Uptake, we believe the winning formula is for purpose-built software companies to create industrial AI software, and for industrial companies to deploy and leverage that software to make their businesses more productive, reliable, safe, and secure.

And there are competitive advantages for those who act first. According to McKinsey, “Digital means that strategies developed solely in the context of a company’s industry are likely to face severe challenges. Traditional approaches such as tracking rivals’ moves closely and using that knowledge to fine-tune overall direction or optimize value chains are increasingly perilous.” Here’s how McKinsey visualizes the obstacles and opportunities presented by digital journeys:

McKinsey-Growth-Rate-Graphic

Where is ag on the climber journey? Many may say that companies are failing to respond to the current digital challenge. It’s a potential reason why many larger ag companies are buying startups in an attempt to solve a particular digital challenge. Yet, when it comes to true partnerships, many continue to choose to conquer the agtech digital landscape alone.

From agtech companies to growers, our industry needs to embrace digitization by remaining focused, realizing that help needs to come from the outside and taking quick action. This is what’ll sustain the next phase of the ag data revolution.

We cannot keep pursuing digital strategies from solely within the ag silo — if we do, we’ll face the fate of plummeting growth rates. The same goes for growers who have yet to start their own digital strategies. Agtech companies and growers must work together closely to address larger issues by identifying and solving critical problems that’ll move the needle from a productivity standpoint.

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Ag’s Digital Revolution: What’s Holding Us Back?

  1. Having worked in the AgTech industry side as well as having a large established family farm, I believe that no grower or company has it completely figured out. Some growers and companies obviously do it better than others, but we are still far from doing it perfectly. You can see and feel the difference between the growers and companies that fully embrace data and use that data to make actionable decisions.

    I think AgTech companies need to do a better job at showing the raw value, meaning how can we justify this change. We have been doing this for agronomic decisions for a long time. Side by side trials, year over year testing, from the grower stand point, they can see the difference in better technology in agronomy when it comes to ROI/Yield. Even in precision equipment technology with gps, yield maps, autosteer, VR prescriptions, etc. We can visually see the change in the field.

    The worst feeling is getting the grower or our farm, to buy into the technology and to make decisions based on data but then never showing the true value of the ___ service. So they feel like they have been burned by the company or that they didn’t see the actual/monetary value, so they stop using it, and that journey back into AgTech is a rocky one.

    No doubt, culture changes need to happen on both sides of the isle. AgTech companies have to do a better job at not telling the farmer how to farm, but showing the value of doing things differently. I remember sitting down one day and thinking how many times I’ve heard the word “help” from companies in Agriculture, this technology, service, data, etc. will help you farm better. I remember thinking I don’t need help farming, I want help making better decisions. So how can we get growers and companies to show, prove, utilize this information to make our growers more profitable. Collaboration and communication across the entire year is key to successful adoption. Software and data is a powerful asset and will be even more powerful every year going forward but, it still doesn’t give you that warm and fuzzy feeling from driving the planter across the field in the spring.

    I have much more to day on the topic but I will leave it to this long post, just my 2 cents.

Data Management Stories
Google-Earth-Map-featured-image
Data ManagementRainfall Revisited: Accurate Observations and Beyond
September 18, 2018
As a provider of weather analysis and forecast services to the agricultural industry, one of the most common questions I Read More
Soil-Hand
Data ManagementAre You Using Your Soil to Its Full Potential?
September 14, 2018
Harvest is progressing across most parts of the U.S. and those growers who aren’t already harvesting are gearing up to Read More
Tablet Grower
Data ManagementThe Power of Predictive Analytics in Agriculture
September 5, 2018
Years ago if we would have been told computers, data, and technology would be scattered around every farm there may Read More
AmericasOn The Scene: 2018 Farm Progress Show Wrap Up
September 5, 2018
Former Monsanto President (now Bayer CropScience Chief Operating Office) Brett Begemann’s opening salvo during his first appearance at a Farm Read More
Trending Articles
Soil-Hand
Data ManagementAre You Using Your Soil to Its Full Potential?
September 14, 2018
Harvest is progressing across most parts of the U.S. and those growers who aren’t already harvesting are gearing up to Read More
Grower-Retailer
Imagery/SensingAgtech: 10 Things I Hate About You!
September 4, 2018
Before you get bent out of shape from the title, remember if you’ve read my articles before you know I Read More
Kansas State University
Industry NewsKansas State University, Topcon Form Precision Ag Research Partnership
August 30, 2018
Kansas State University and Topcon Agriculture are collaborating to develop tools and systems to advance precision agriculture and support farmers. Read More
Blockchain building block graphic
Specialty CropsIs Blockchain the Future of Food Safety?
August 24, 2018
When the Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) was standardized in 1982, permitting the worldwide proliferation of interconnected networks and eventually the Read More
WinField’s Joel Wipperfurth On Empowering Data-Driven Decisions
InfoAg ConferenceOne on One with Joel Wipperfurth, Winfield United
August 15, 2018
Winfield United's Joel Wipperfurth discusses ag technology trends and topics during last month’s InfoAg Conference. Read More
Geosys
Industry NewsUrtheCast to Acquire Geosys from Land O’Lakes in $20 Million Deal
August 15, 2018
UrtheCast Corp. and Land O’Lakes, Inc. today announced they have entered a binding term sheet for the purchase of Geosys Read More
Latest News
Business ManagementIvy Tech, Farmers Partner to Help Precision Ag Educatio…
September 20, 2018
Harvest time has taken on a new meaning for some Wabash Valley farmers, and Bobbi Hunt-Kincaid hopes her family’s first Read More
Sensors
Sensors/IoTThe Answer to Agriculture’s Daunting Challenges – Soil …
September 20, 2018
According to the United Nations, 9.6 billion people will live on planet Earth by 2050. Feeding these mouths will require Read More
Google-Earth-Map-featured-image
Data ManagementRainfall Revisited: Accurate Observations and Beyond
September 18, 2018
As a provider of weather analysis and forecast services to the agricultural industry, one of the most common questions I Read More
PenelopeNagel
Business ManagementWhy Is Funding a Challenge for Women-Led Agtech Compani…
September 17, 2018
When it comes to women-led agtech companies the funding discussion never seems to cease. In June after the The New Read More
Mobile Phone in field
Decision Support SoftwareWhy Are 570 Million Farmers Not Yet Using Agricultural …
September 17, 2018
Until recently, using agricultural apps and software was a rare practice among growers. This is now changing. The mass adoption Read More
Soil-Hand
Data ManagementAre You Using Your Soil to Its Full Potential?
September 14, 2018
Harvest is progressing across most parts of the U.S. and those growers who aren’t already harvesting are gearing up to Read More
Grower Services & SolutionsDeere-Granular Collaboration Produces New Profit Maps T…
September 14, 2018
The newest development from the ongoing John Deere-Granular product development and marketing collaboration is Profit Maps, now available to farmers Read More
Wingtra
DronesOpinion: Combining Two Pluses with the WingtraOne UAV
September 13, 2018
For the every-day consumer interested in UAVs, there is an ocean of products from which to choose. This includes the Read More
Farmer-tablet
AsiaShould Agri-Input Manufacturers Outsource E-Commerce to…
September 12, 2018
Editor’s note: Venky Ramachandran is a contributing writer for PrecisionAg.com’s sister site, AgriBusinessGlobal.com. This article was originally published on LinkedIn. Now, Read More
ICON-Link-Licensing_featured-image
Industry NewsValley Irrigation Adds Remote Irrigation Management Opt…
September 11, 2018
Valley Irrigation, an industry leader in smart irrigation solutions, has announced enhancements to its remote management technologies. Multi-Year Licensing In Read More
Reflex-Connect-Agri-Inject-featured-image
Variable Rate ApplicationVariable Rate Fertigation System Expands with Mobile Co…
September 10, 2018
Building on the success of its Reflex Variable Rate Fertigation system, Agri-Inject has taken fluid injection to the next level Read More
Industry NewsTeralytic Earns Ag Data Transparent Certification
September 10, 2018
Soil analytics company Teralytic has completed the Ag Data Transparent certification, affirming that their data use is private, secure, and Read More
Business ManagementTop 20 Two-Year Colleges for Precision Agriculture
September 10, 2018
Earlier this year, I compiled a list of the 25 best colleges for precision agriculture. It was quite the process. Read More
Industry NewsRaven, Topcon Announce Slingshot API Agreement
September 6, 2018
Raven Industries and Topcon Agriculture announced today a licensing agreement for Topcon Agriculture’s use of the Slingshot Application Programming Interface Read More
Tablet Grower
Data ManagementThe Power of Predictive Analytics in Agriculture
September 5, 2018
Years ago if we would have been told computers, data, and technology would be scattered around every farm there may Read More
DronessenseFly Launches eBee X Drone, Breaks Through 1,000 ac…
September 5, 2018
senseFly today reportedly sets a new standard in mapping tools with the launch of the eBee X. Launched with the Read More
AmericasOn The Scene: 2018 Farm Progress Show Wrap Up
September 5, 2018
Former Monsanto President (now Bayer CropScience Chief Operating Office) Brett Begemann’s opening salvo during his first appearance at a Farm Read More
EventsAg Experts Discuss Big Data Challenges in Agriculture
September 5, 2018
Agricultural experts at a Houston conference praised the advancements in unmanned aerial vehicles, sensors, and data-collecting technology used in precision Read More