Big Ag and Big Data: A Match Made In Heaven?

Oct 6, 2013

Looking at data like historic rainfall and soil quality to help farmers predict crop yields can create what one Monsanto executive called “the next level of agriculture.”
Looking at data like historic rainfall and soil quality to help farmers predict crop yields can create what one Monsanto executive called “the next level of agriculture.”
Credit Matthew Staver / New York Times

Ag giant Monsanto recently purchased the Climate Corporation according to a recent blog in the New York Times

The Climate Corporation uses data like historic rainfall and soil quality to help farmers predict crop yields.  Monsanto hopes to take the insight from Climate Corp and create the next level agriculture.

“A farmer should be able to grow on farmland square meter by square meter, for lots more yield, planting seeds at different rates for each meter,” said Kerry Preete, Monsanto’s executive vice president of strategy. “We’re a data company at heart, breeding seeds and helping farmers optimize yields and manage risk.”

Another purchase will help farmers do just that.  Precision Planting was bought last year.  It allows farmers to plant seeds at various depths and spaces, almost by the square meter, so different parts of a farm get different treatment.

The combination of these two purchases is the first step in developing two-way farm machinery systems that take up and receive data, giving farmers better sense of what to plant and how much water and fertilizer to use said Preete.

Monsanto critics don’t see Monsanto as the farmer’s helper with its genetically modified crops that it sells on a one-time use basis.  But, whatever the perception of Monsanto, Preete has a point- data is important to Monsanto.