| CHICAGO, March 11
CHICAGO, March 11 Purdue University researchers
and a group of agricultural companies on Tuesday announced an
open source project to standardize farm data formats and improve
communication between farm equipment and farm management tools
made by different companies.
The Open Agriculture Data Alliance, or OADA, will also seek
to set standards on data privacy and security, among the top
concerns of farmers gathering and sharing increasingly deep
pools of data from high tech farm machines armed with global
positioning technology and wireless data transfer capability.
"The purpose is to solve some of the issues that farmers
have dealing with their data," said Aaron Ault, a senior
research engineer at Purdue's Open Ag Technology Group and
project lead for the OADA.
Agricultural data can include everything from farm financial
documents and futures market positions to the number of seeds
planted per acre and inches rainfall in each field.
"We will solve as many problems with technological solutions
as we possibly can. The ones that we cannot solve with
technological solutions we will solve with common language that
lets the farmer know, up front, what it is they are getting into
when they enter into agreements with these different companies."
Also involved in the effort are agricultural data science
company The Climate Corporation, Valley Irrigation, farm
cooperative GROWMARK, equipment maker CNH Industrial
and seed company AgReliant Genetics. Other participants include
farm products suppliers Wilbur-Ellis Company and WinField.
Agriculture companies such as John Deere, DuPont
Pioneer and Climate Corp parent Monsanto have
been investing heavily in precision agriculture and data
analytics tools over the past year. They have launched services
that will analyze data and make recommendations to boost crop
yields or increase efficiency by pairing soil types with optimal
seeds or focusing chemical applications only where they are
But the high tech tools have raised concerns that data
shared by farmers could be misused or sold to third parties.
Although the companies have reassured farmers that their data is
safe in often-lengthy privacy statements, the OADA will seek to
standardize privacy and security guidelines industry wide.
OADA will also create a "reference implementation" of a
cloud storage and data analytics service to set an example for
the industry on how an OADA-compliant system should function.
Developers are invited to contribute software code to improve
upon the template or use it to create their own OADA-compliant
"No company owns the intellectual property that is part of
the project so how each company decides to take it and use it to
their own benefit is really up to them," Ault said.
"It really opens up the ability for small players to
innovate. And it allows the farmer to choose the best-in-class
solution instead of the one that happens to work with his
equipment today," he said.