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U.S. farmers confront ‘big data’ revolution

Author: Kristy

Sensors measure soil conditions, seeding rates, crop yields and many other variables, allowing companies to provide farmers with customized guidance on how to get the most out of their fields.

By Roxana Hegeman
The Associated Press

WICHITA, Kan. – Farmers from across the nation gathered in Washington this month for what has become an annual trek to seek action on the most important matters in American agriculture, such as immigration reform and water regulations.

Nick Guetterman looks over the data shared by his crop sprayer and cell phone while on his farm near Bucyrus, Kan., Wednesday.

The Associated Press

But this time, a new, more shadowy issue also emerged: growing unease about how the largest seed companies are gathering vast amount of data from sensors on tractors, combines and other farm equipment.

The increasingly common sensors measure soil conditions, seeding rates, crop yields and many other variables, allowing companies to provide farmers with customized guidance on how to get the most out of their fields.

The involvement of the American Farm Bureau, the nation’s largest and most prominent farming organization, illustrates how agriculture is cautiously entering a new era in which raw planting data holds both the promise of higher yields and the peril that the information could be hacked or exploited by corporations or government agencies.

Seed companies want to harness the data to help farmers grow more food with the same amount of land, and the industry’s biggest brands have offered assurances that all information will be closely guarded. READ MORE

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