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Technology in Agriculture, Simplified

The Great Debate.. On Big Data


Will Big Data make you money?

Is Big Data worth your time and effort?

I already wrote once on how we need to get the small and simple information right before moving onto the more complex items, but I want to address the more complex stuff too.



There are a lot of Ag data services out there, and that’s a great thing for innovation and growth of the industry, but economic times have changed. I am concerned, as are many, about the ROI on some of these services. I am NOT knocking these services, I’m just providing some thoughts. I have NO agenda in writing this post.

It is your decision to decide what is right for your own operation.



Accuracy of the data

We’re just now getting the technology mature enough to gather information, such as yield and moisture, in a truly accurate manner. How accurate is some of the historical data? What about data variations when looking at regional comparisons.. such as yield calibrations and extreme weather events? What assumptions and estimates are made in the computer models and algorithms? I’m not saying not all

More work to be done

Many big data services will actually require you to do more work, not less. You’ll need to enter timing of applications and amounts. You’ll need to scout areas that NDVI maps show issues. I’m not saying it’s not worth the extra effort, just be prepared to



The last two points can stand by themselves





Knowledge can be extremely powerful. I’m looking forward to learning some really eye-opening things from big data, but I do know it will likely take time. The simplification of hundreds, if not thousands of variables will be powerful


With many of these services that do comparison of data between users, smaller operations will have the same opportunities as larger operations. Not to mention, this information will be anytime and any place on devices from smartphones to tablets and computers to tractor armrest displays. Sharing isn’t just for social media, it’s really a growing in doing business.


We all need to document more, and with many of these services we will have apps and websites tailored to Ag. Also, this level of documentation should make complex things government compliance and ordering inputs much faster to complete. My hope is this need for documentation will accelerate hardware and software to automated collection of the needed data.

Logistics and Communication

Two areas I see massive inefficiencies in Ag. Look at what other industries are doing with making massive investments with things like work flow, accounting, scheduling, and planning. If large organizations like airlines and trucking companies use these tools than why can’t we?



Take what you want from this post, it’s just a few of my thoughts and opinions on big data for Ag. I won’t claim anywhere near all the answers. Whatever you do, make sure to make an informed decision. Don’t be afraid to make the adjustments that are right for your operation along the way. And maybe most important, make sure to give feedback; we’re all in this together.

Looking for a late model piece of equipment? Be sure to let Aaron know using this form: