Farm Press Blog

Big Data is agriculture’s big blank on the map


Table of Contents:

  • Big Data is giant blank on the map and U.S. agriculture is charging right toward it. Nobody, including farmers, gets to opt out of the unintended consequences of digital technology.

The data is market gold that came from a farmer’s field, but was mined by agribusiness riding shotgun in the tractor cab. Who owns it? Blake Hurst wades in on property rights in The American: “… the individual farmer’s data has considerably more value than the average consumer’s data. Many farms are fairly large businesses, spending hundreds of thousands on fertilizer and seed and producing millions of dollars of crops. It’s not difficult to imagine a smart phone ad arriving within seconds of a farmer encountering weed or insect damage while he’s harvesting his crop. Farmers’ information is valuable to the companies sponsoring ads, so farmers should be compensated when their data is sold. Farmers need to protect their data and make sure they bargain wisely as they share data with suppliers and companies who desire access to their information.”


For more from Hurst, see Big Farms Are About to Get Bigger


There’s no Faustian bargain between agriculture and Big Data, but it should be noted that proprietary data rules are yet to be written and the law of unintended consequences may play out down the road in high court in Big Data’s version of Bowman v. Monsanto or other touchstone cases. Bob Stallman, president of American Farm Bureau Federation, from a Jan. 31 AFBF release: "Proprietary data collected from individual farms is valuable and should remain the property of the farmer. As innovation and technology using this data expands to provide farmers new management tools, protecting the privacy of this data is paramount."

A buyer-beware change is around the bend for American farmers — but beware of what? Hurst wraps the issue very well: “Farmer’s personal relationship to place, one of the salient facts that distinguish agriculture, is about to change.”


Follow me on Twitter: @CBennett71 or email me:


Blog archive

Farmer dragged into harvester escapes with life

Who killed the Big Lebowski of Belgium?

Benchmark GM crop contamination case a bitter tale

How to create an epic environmental disaster

Big Ag goes organic (Come again?)

Farm’s Nazi past still fresh for slave workers

Farmer privacy breach brings suit against EPA

James Bond once worked for the EPA

AK-47 rifle was agriculture’s giant loss?

What treasure is buried beneath farmland?

Discuss this Blog Entry 2

Anonymous (not verified)
on Feb 11, 2014

My worry is about Big Data being able to assemble knowledge to be able to manipulate and profit from production data before anyone else is aware of changing events that can move markets.

on Aug 12, 2015

Big data has a lot of capacity to profit organizations in any kind of industry, ubiquitously in world. it is a useful to decision-making and helpful to improve the financial position of any organization.

Post new comment
or register to use your Western Farm Press ID
What's Farm Press Blog?

The Farm Press Daily Blog

Connect With Us

Blog Archive
Continuing Education Courses
Sponsored by Monsanto, this accredited Weed Resistance Management CEU gives an overview of...
New Course
The Federal Organic Foods Production Act set standards for both growers and consumers, and the...
New Course
Mites are small arthropods in the class Arachnida and the subclass Acari. Although they are...

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×