| June 5
June 5 DuPont Pioneer has signed up eight
U.S. Midwest universities to work on research into nitrogen use
on farms, the latest in a flurry of deals by agriculture firms
looking to reap the benefits of the data collection from farm
The seed and chemicals company will provide some funding for
the research and equipment and technology for the schools,
according to the three-year agreement announced on Thursday.
In return, the company will have exclusive use of the data
for four years, which it will plug into its subscription-based
precision agriculture platform that taps mountains of data to
help farmers make farm management decisions.
Companies such as DuPont Pioneer and rival Monsanto
have been investing aggressively in big data services, hoping to
spin detailed weather or soil data into profit for farmers, but
there are concerns about data privacy and security.
"This is the first time there's been this kind of collective
group come together across such a wide geography to look at
soils, crop modeling software and technology, and do an
analysis," said DuPont Pioneer spokeswoman Jane Slusark.
The company has deals with equipment makers AGCO
and Deere & Co. to wirelessly stream data from machines
in real time. It also teamed up with the University of Missouri
and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to enhance its soil maps.
DuPont Pioneer says it expects the data services to generate
$500 million annually over the next decade.
The participating land-grant universities are Iowa State,
North Dakota State, Purdue, the University of Illinois-Urbana,
the University of Minnesota, the University of Missouri, the
University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of
"The idea is that if we get a lot of data over many years
and across various sites then we can get better in managing
nitrogen," said Emerson Nafziger, professor of crop sciences at
the University of Illinois and the school's principal
investigator in the DuPont Pioneer collaboration.
Farmers often over-apply nitrogen fertilizers to guarantee
crops have enough of the essential nutrient, but unused nitrogen
is sometimes washed away by rain and ends up in rivers and
lakes, he said. Massive dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico have
been blamed on overuse of nitrogen on Midwest farms.
(Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago, editing by Jo Winterbottom
and Diane Craft)