April 12, 2023

Increase the Value of Data: A Call to AgTech Startups

AgTech Startups, we need an open data exchange format to increase the value of complementary data sets to the end customer─the grower.

I had a great conversation today about the increased value that can be created in farming operations when data from multiple activities are combined to increase the value of each (in short – 1 + 1 = 3 … sometimes). As an example, let’s say that vendor A provides a solution for planting (something like PlantTape Inc.) and vendor B provides a solution for weeding (something like Naïo Technologies).

The efficiency of the Naio solution goes up (by a lot) when they have the actual planting location data because it’s easier to identify weeds instead of plants if you know exactly where the plants were originally planted. There are a couple of steps that have to happen: (1) PlantTape has to store the data in a cloud-based solution (ideally one the grower uses, not the AgTech provider); (2) the grower has to confirm that the data got loaded in a common data-interchange format; and (3) Naio then pulls the data from the cloud into their equipment to increase the weeding accuracy.

By this point, you can see at least a couple of requirements:

1) We need an open-source data template for storing data from multiple machines so it can easily be stored (likely via batch after the operation is completed) and retrieved by different vendors that can benefit from the other part of the data set.

2) Cloud usage by growers needs to continue increasing so that this is an option for the data storage─this puts the grower at the center of the data exchange since it’s their data that makes things easier on all sides. Startups don’t want to be responsible for the exchange─better that the growers own that.

3) The data standard needs a template and needs to be something that will be widely adopted (and existing data standards from John Deere, Trimble, or CNHi─which may apparently be 3 different solutions ─research yet to be done).

So when all is said and done, we need to develop something like an HTML data exchange standard that multiple startups can and will use to provide additional data from their data to other solution providers to the eventual benefit of the grower customer that both are working for.