ISPA Account

“Houston, we have a (data) problem.”

Farmers struggle to use data for decision-making. A survey of over 1500 farmers demonstrated high rates of data collection but low rates of data usage. Participants to the conference “Identifying Obstacles to Applying Big Data in Agriculture” defined scenarios in which on-farm decisions could benefit from the application of Big Data. Common obstacles identified included errors in the data, inaccessibility of the data, unusability of the data, incompatibility of data generation and processing systems, the inconvenience of handling the data, the lack of a clear return on investment (ROI) and unclear ownership. One solution: Standards or guidelines for farmers on how to collect “good” data should be developed, so that collected data are usable in multi-platform systems, and are underpinned by ground-truth data and proper sensor calibration. The conference was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and was held in Houston, TX, in August 2018. [White, E.L., Thomasson, J.A., Auvermann, B. et al. Report from the conference, “identifying obstacles to applying big data in agriculture”. Precision Agric 22, 306–315 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11119-020-09738-y]