Farmers unaware of the invaluable value of their collective data

25-07-2023 | |
Photo: CropX
Photo: CropX

In modern agriculture, data is considered the most valuable harvest of the future. The world’s largest data platforms for crop growers, Climate FieldView, Farmers Business Network (FBN), and GeoPard Agriculture, play a crucial role in collecting and analyzing this invaluable information, aiding farmers in making critical cultivation decisions. However, a vital question arises: who owns these digital fields, and to what extent can farmers trust the independence of these platforms?

One prominent player, Climate FieldView, is owned by the chemical giant Bayer. While this platform offers many benefits, farmers may wonder if the profit motives of a multinational corporation could influence the analyses or recommendations provided through FieldView, raising doubts about whether their data is being utilized solely for their benefit or for others.

Data platforms in private ownership better?

On the other hand, FBN and GeoPard Agriculture have no apparent ties to major corporations or suppliers (as far as we know). This allows farmers to place their trust in analyses that are solely focused on their advantage. However, we must not forget that even these platforms could eventually be acquired or go public, potentially compromising their independence.

A future where data serves farmers and not the other way around.

The farming community can address this challenge by striving for a cooperative approach to data ownership. Just like in the past, when cooperatives were formed for processing milk or sugar beets, a farmers’ data cooperative would act as a robust shield, protecting them from external influences while enabling them to collectively benefit from data analyses. Moreover, when third parties such as governments or suppliers seek insights from a portion of their collective data, farmers can decide whether they wish to share it and at what price, maintaining full transparency.

Masters of their digital virtual fields

In a world where data is the new gold, farmers must view themselves as masters of their digital virtual fields. The choice is theirs: do they sow trust and collaboration in a cooperative environment, or do they surrender their precious data to external parties with potentially conflicting interests? Let us remember that those who sow will ultimately reap.

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Geert Hekkert Chief editor of Future Farming
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