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Veteran Contributor

Big Data


I had one farmer ask me at a meeting last summer, "Why are farm magazines so consumed with Big Data?" I have to admit his question caught me off-guard. Like one certain presidential candidate, i repreated my self, "Well, farmers want to read about new technology" over and over again! 

But his question got me thinking: have any of you gleaned any yield or any other benefits from it? I sense there is still lots of sorting out of this new technology and its practicality.


Gil Gullickson

Crops Technology Editor 

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Re: Big Data



I think this is an excelletnt question.  I have yield moniotr, GPS, autyosteer and so forth.  I don't use it for prescriptions, though I have had soil samples turned into prescriptions.


Big data costs money to gather.  It's payback is uncertain in some cases.  The data I gather corroborates what I already know, for the most part, but it does put objective numbers on impressions.  Maybe it tells me not only that the side-hill seep is there in bad years, but how many bushesl it's costing me.


I thnk landlords would like big data because it should confirm what their land is worth and that fertility levels are maintained.


Younger farmers should like it as a way to develop a database that will become more valuable in time.


Iowa State is saying if you have this kind of data, you may find you should change your cropping practices.  For example, you may have an 80 acre field in corn and soybeans that should have some put into pasture, hay or some other use.  It's not so much that you'll make more money fromsomething esle as that you will quit losing so much money where corn or soybeans shouldn't be planted.  Precision fertilizer and planting presctiptyions help make this kind of management pay off.


I tink we're in a transition period.  The big companies that want to verticallyl integrate grain farming will find big data a powerful tool.  The medium or smaller sized old farmer may be better off without it.


Big data can be used against one - it can be subpoened.  But, it may be that in the future we have to have it to provide data to defend ourselves from environmental challenges.


We'll all be using it in 10-15 years, like it or not.

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