U.S. farmers working with a Minnesota company called Farm Intelligence have been harvesting more than corn and soybeans lately. Their fields, comprising about 1 million acres, have yielded close to a petabyte of data that they hope will inform smarter decisions throughout the growing season.
Farm Intelligence CTO Steve Kickert tells Gigaom this week that his company “analyzes sensor data, data from other precision agriculture tools, aerial images, government data, and weather data to try and figure out what’s going on in the field.” The tools provide early warnings of disease, pests, or other troubling crop conditions that farmers can act quickly on.
On its website, Farm Intelligence asks customers: “What if you could add 30-50 bushels per acre in your corn product? Where would you look to for an opportunity to increase your soybean yields by an additional 6-10 bushels per acre? How could you identify the best opportunities for action?”
The company has trademarked the term “Decision Agriculture,” one-upping “precision agriculture,” the phrase that describes how farming operations large enough to have their own IT infrastructures have been using sensors, satellites, and drones to optimize not just crop planting and harvesting, but product distribution.
Farm Intelligence customers don’t need an internal IT team. The data are analyzed by the company’s proprietary WingScan software, stored on the cloud, and delivered to farmers’ smartphones or iPads. Kickert tells Gigaom: “Our primary and, frankly, only goal is to help the farmer … increase the yield they’re getting on their crops.”