Do Farmers Believe Their Data is Valuable?
The proof that the vast majority of farmers believe it, is that they have been keeping it around for years. They take the cards from the Combine in and save it on the computer and it’s been sitting there for 10 years. However, for the most part they haven’t done anything with it. If you do try to actually work with your own data, it certainly does appear messy. That’s a good description of the process. It’s a matter of getting it out of one format and into another one. Part of what open source can help bring to the table is libraries and things that make it so that we no longer have to be so quite concerned about the various formats that our data is saved in.
The farmers and industry are moving to turn that data into actual management decisions or means of evaluating the management decisions that you can make. But they can’t do that because of all of the hassle of just getting data from A to B, from person A to person B, trying to make a tool that works with 75 different service providers. From a farmer’s perspective what open source software and standards, specifically OADA, brings to the table is it allows people to build tools for farmers cheaper, faster, and easier that can actually turn data into decisions. It is a standard to normalize things around so that it can be transferred much easier.
If you look at the industry today there’s a lot of people out there with great ideas for trying to make data more valuable on a farm. Most of the ideas revolve around building some kind of analytical tool to evaluate whether cover crops were effective on your farm this year, or what should be spent on fungicide, what’s the best the best prescription planting map or something like that, that is available. However, if you look at how organizations/people are spending the time today, it is not actually on building the great analytical tools that they’re dreaming of, it’s largely on just wrangling data. It’s largely getting data from format A to format B and sending people out to manually get USB sticks of data from their various customers. The focus should be more on trying to build better tools.
The data is the first prerequisite. If the farmers believe it is more valuable, what has stopped you from using it in the past? Would a standard way of sharing make it more valuable? More secure?