The ADC seeks to make agricultural data storage a “pre-competitive” space for the food production industry and give farmers an option for storing all of their data in one secure location that is independent of any supplier or manufacturer. Simultaneously, the effort provides land-grant universities and similar institutions a platform for cooperation and shared ag research among scientists and between scientists and farmers.
The ADC was founded as a non-profit organization at the end of 2016 by a consortium of universities, agribusinesses, and farm organizations during a time when the data collected on farms is surging, but our abilities to gain insights from it are still greatly constrained. The ADC is seeking to fundamentally change the sharing of ag data between farmers, universities, and private companies. The purpose of the organization is two fold, first to educate the industry on the value and best practices for farmer control and sharing of data. The second objective is to facilitate secure data sharing in field-scale research studies between research organizations and farmer cooperators.
Today the promise of agricultural data analytics is being held back by several factors. While technologies like auto-guidance and section control have achieved rapid adoption, tools like variable rate application that require more data collection, storage, sharing and analysis are not as widely used. This is due to a variety of factors, first of which is a lack of trust. Farmers have concerns about transparency and distribution of their data, they are not always clear on who will benefit from the use of their data once shared. Agricultural producers are often leery of sharing data for fear that data can be replicated and when geo-referenced difficult to make anonymous creating the risk for it to go beyond the intended use. A second problem is that too often farmers are beholden to one technology or service provider due to the difficulty in retrieving the data from that entity to use within other tools that may or may not be competitive. Third, in general, data storage, data sharing, insufficient data documentation, and a lack of connection between observation and theory have been identified as limitations to the potential for big ag data today. Not only is the process for collecting, storing and sharing data cumbersome, the data itself is often incomplete or lacking sufficient accuracy and contextual information to be readily used.
The ADC is meant to address these issues – to significantly advance agricultural research by linking farmers to researchers and researchers to researchers through a data repository that is widely used by farmers, their advisors, and university researchers.