How can digital solutions in agriculture work together?
Digital evolution in agriculture is unquestionably accelerating, with countless innovations now coming to market across all sectors of agriculture. As with all new technology, there is a challenge to make it simple for the user, and a major barrier for those technology solutions is that they often don’t work together.
Users are forced to supply the same essential field or animal data over and over in order to derive any valuable return. The result of this is frustration and disengagement where innovation should, in theory, be rewarding to the user. How can these disparate systems work together, in a way that drives productivity on the farm?
Most progressive farmers in developed countries use a farm management software solution to manage their farm enterprise, covering everything from field or stock planning, budgeting, production and analysis, and forms the cornerstone to drive the tactical and strategic direction of their businesses. As a consequence, their software contains a rich source of data, of which different elements can be utilised by the new, varied digital advice-based innovations in today’s agri-marketplace.
“As innovations increase, data standards struggle to keep up,” says Alistair Knott, Precision Development Director at Proagrica, worldwide provider of data connectivity solutions for the agriculture industry. “Farm management software are all different from one another, and very many didn’t have data extraction and integration in mind when they were created. Expertise is needed to bring all of the data into a common, usable structure – without compromising the data’s original source. This is particularly important as geospatial data becomes more the norm which, though incredibly valuable, requires exceptional processing capabilities and technological aptitude to utilise.”
For farmers or advisors looking to use farm management software to drive productivity and profitability in their enterprise, there is a way to avoid this by choosing a system that can:
a) Give complete control over permissions, deciding who exactly can use and see selected inputted data
b) Seamlessly share permitted data with innovative software that can support the farmer’s business strategy
Essentially, digital farm management should make farming more productive, but not more onerous. By adopting a digital solution that meets the above criteria, farmers and advisors can focus on growing their business, comfortable that they are in complete control of their data, without requiring multiple entry of the same data sets.
For developers of new innovative tools for precision ag, it’s essential that the design architecture is easily accessible and mergeable into single data warehouse. Data entry must be controlled, avoiding free text where possible. Trust is sacred in farming; the permissioning process must be at the heart of any solution, and not an afterthought. Where possible, ensure synchronicity with a central data exchange and/or the growers’ farm system as the source of truth on the farm.
The implications of managing large, complex geo-spatial data sets are daunting, but rewarding. For innovative tech businesses, consider working with experts in the agricultural field, who know the sector, know the technical challenges and understand the opportunities. For farmers, seek out a digital solution that works seamlessly with your farm practice, supporting your business as needed while avoiding unnecessary stress.