Businesses have a wealth of data on-farm which could be used to boost both productivity and profitability but farmers must feel motivated to collect and share it.
A conference run by Agrimetrics, a big data centre of excellence for the agrifood chain, heard how farmers must be incentivised to use data, either through rewards such as ’insights’ or through some form of payment.
Prof Richard Tiffin, chief scientific officer, Agrmetrics, said trust was also an important element, as farmers and growers could be wary about where their data was shared, who it was shared with and where it ended up.
“We have to tell them where it is ending up and we have to deliver value back to the farmer,” Prof Tiffin told the audience in London.
He added the data farmers collected and held ‘is going to help us solve world food problems’.
However, data was no good kept ‘in silo’.
David Flanders, Agrimetrics chief executive, added: “Data in isolation is low in value.”
Prof Tiffin said the ‘unfathomably’ complex food system relied on a two-way street of data, flowing from the consumer to the producer through a series of channels. Any disruption to this could lead to a supermarket seeing empty shelves, for example.
He added the system was also heavily ‘predictable’, meaning the chances of major disruptions were slim.
Relying more on real-time data and connecting data sets together, however, would reduce these instances even further.
Matthew Smith, Microsoft, said farmers were more likely to use and share data if they saw others reaping the benefits.
“Social mechanisms kick in and people will see others are finding it useful and will also want to try it,” said Mr Smith.
“We need to make the agricultural community aware of these applications which can become a reality, enabling more intelligent decisions to be made on the back of analysing their data.”