Facebook might be the most obvious player when it comes to selling user data, but it’s certainly not the only one. A US company wants to give farmers the chance to decide who can access their electronic farm records, and to let them make money of selling their data.
DATA COLLECTING TECHNOLOGY HAS BEEN USED in agriculture for years, which of course benefits the farmer. The farmer is not the only one though – equipment companies have also access to this data, often without the knowledge of the farmer. Jason Tatge of Farmobile wants to change that: “We believe now is the time for farmers to take ‘control’ of their data. By take control we mean for farmers to have a complete report that details what companies have access to their data, what the intended use of that data is, and what the actual use of their data is.”
Taking control of the data is not the only thing he has in mind. “We encourage farmers to think of this taking control process as a “reverse tech fee”. It's the principal that requires a purchaser of a farmer's data to sign terms and pay fee’s in the event farmers choose to disclose or market their data.” Part of his plan is to sell the collected data to interested companies, to the benefit of the farmer, and of course to the benefit of the collector. “Our only business is the collection, protection, and monetization of data. We split profits from data sales with the farmer who chooses to sell their data.”
From fertilizing to harvest, during each crop year many types of activity cover the same ground. Farmobile's Simplicity system captures and saves all this activity in an Electronic Farm Record (EFR). The EFR is a complete record of all farm activity. The product is a simple setup. The orange PUC connects to the machine using the gray cable that links to the machine’s Isobus plug. The black antenna wire goes outside the machine for GPS connection.
A PUC relays data from any make and model of Isobus or J1939 equipped machinery. The user connects a provided cable into the diagnostic port in the cab and puts an antenna on the roof. The data is then relayed to the users’s EFR, with zero interaction necessary. PUC data is collected, sorted, and saved automatically whenever there is field work. The EFR can then be enhanced with other data such as weather and markets.
The EFR is a valuable measurement tool for operation. It can be kept private, but it can also be shared, either anonymously or identifiable for access to real-time benchmarking with other EFRs and industry reports.
The company has also been working on a mobile-optimized web application. So far, it shows each device added to a farmer's account with a nickname, the days each machine worked marked in orange across calendars, total hours each machine was sending data, total data in MiB or GiB sent from each machine via its PUC, and how that data sums up in message counts: overall, diagnostic, and virtual terminal.
To the right, the demo version of the beta Simplicity App in action shows a hybrid map, which lists road and city names; a history viewer, which lists all the days data was captured; gestures for tilting the map, zooming in/out, and rotating it; follow-feature, which keeps the location bubble centered; the selected PUC name; and historical and daily paths.
Farmobile was launched in December 2013. They are still in their testing phase, but in May this year, they had already installed 212 PUCs. The company is still accepting applications for test customers. Each test customer will have access to the company’s technology for one crop year.
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