Data has been part of virtually every major industry for years and agriculture is no exception. Only in recent years, the term “Big Data” has taken over and is being used commonly to denote the large bits of information collected through advanced tools and digital technologies for the good of farmers and agribusinesses alike.

Thanks to the incorporation of artificial intelligence and IoT systems in agriculture, farmers and their farming processes have become increasingly data-driven. This means today’s growers and agriculture marketers are armed with powerful data analytics solutions that allow them to optimise operations in ways that were unimaginable a decade ago. With the use of a combination of smart machines and tools, farmers can collect, analyse and leverage gigantic amounts of data efficiently to fight new agriculture world’s challenges including rapid urbanisation, depletion of farmland, climate changes, rising population and demand for food and quality.  The benefits of data analytics go beyond overcoming long-standing and modern agricultural challenges; when combined with IoT, cloud computing, machine learning and artificial intelligence, data can help improve overall farm performance and productivity while opening a new world of possibilities for farmers and agribusinesses in the market.

HOW DATA ANALYTICS CAN HELP FARMS AND FARMERS 

Agriculture is one of the industries that people least expected to be associated with data analytics, but that is changing and for the better. The utilisation of data analytics in agriculture is transforming various aspects of the sector – economy, operation, profitability, sustainability, advancement and growth. Through a series of events – including in-house research and interactions with industry experts, we drew some detailed insights on how data analytics is benefiting farmers and agricultural businesses, which will ease decision making for those who have not already adopted data-driven solutions and provide inspirations to those who are looking to leverage its potential to the maximum.

1. BETTER CROP MANAGEMENT

From relying on hands-on experiences of and suggestions from fellow farmers to analysing decades of crop and weather data, the way farmers manage crops has significantly transformed after the introduction of big data and IoT.   

With valuable data insights on crop performance, health, yields, trends and more made easily accessible by online agricultural databases and service providers, farmers are able to grow crops at an optimal time and with better accuracy, which minimises crop stress and maximises yields. Guesswork is no longer driving important crop production and related decisions. Devices like drones and sensors give farmers the ability to monitor the health of crops in real-time as well as look back through historical data to see which crops brought most revenue in previous years during which season and which ones failed or contributed to excess waste.

2. ENHANCED RISK ASSESSMENT

Decision making is an inevitable part of farm management and so is risk assessment and management. Farmers must make certain decisions on a daily basis that affect their farming operations. Many of the factors that are considered vital during decision making are actually out of farmers’ control or cannot be predicted with complete accuracy and that is where “risk” lies.

Farmers are frequently exposed to uncertainties of weather, crop diseases and pest infestation, market prices, equipment functioning, government policies, etc. Data centres and analytics solutions provide valuable insights on potential risks and allow farmers to draw predictive analytics to be able to minimise losses and increase productivity.  With access to information related to seeds, production, weather conditions,  yields, use of fertilisers and chemicals, types of crops that are more vulnerable to certain pests than others, the best time to plant, and more, farmers are able to run a more sustainable and profitable farm.  

3. IMPROVED LIVESTOCK CARE

Livestock farming is challenging and many farmers did not realise it until they leveraged data analytics solutions. Farmers that have been managing livestock for years understand how important it is to identify livestock illness symptoms and provide the cattle with proper care and treatment once it is sick. Untreated livestock diseases can result in a number of problems including uncertain food security, productivity losses, loss of income and negative impact on human health.

Data analytics solutions along with IoT devices play a crucial role in livestock disease prevention and management by alerting farmers to the early warning signs of outbreaks in cattle. There are sensors that monitor cattle activity and alert farmers to the behavioural abnormalities, if any. This kind of data helps farmers to be proactive in their disease management approach by isolating animals that may be ill. 

Some of the data-driven devices also notify farmers when cows are in periods of high milk production while others monitor fertility of cattle, which is beneficial in areas where farmers’ profits largely depend on successful breeding.

4. STREAMLINED SUPPLY CHANGE MANAGEMENT

Studies indicate that there is a lot of disruption in agriculture supply chains which presents a number of challenges for the farmers and distributors. Unlike other goods, most farm products are perishable and can pose a health risk if not handled properly during transport. Reports have it that one third of food produced for human consumption is wasted or lost every year due to disruptions between supply and demand chains.

Utilisation of data analytics has added a great deal of efficiency in how farm goods are transported from farmers’ fields to local and global markets. Farmers can track their products through the supply chain, communicate accurate real-time information to retailers and identify inefficiencies so that goods can reach their destination faster and more cost-effectively. Retailers, on the other hand, can use sales reports and inventory data along with insights gathered on customer behaviour, to minimise waste and excess inventory while effectively meeting market demands. The improved transparency, communication and collaboration between supply chains ultimately leads to stronger relationships.  

CONCLUSION

Farmers are more in need to adopt data analytics solutions and leverage valuable insights from large agriculture databases than ever before. Combining big data, smart farming technologies and IoT tools, farmers and agribusinesses can drive innovation and efficiency in their operations while creating a competitive edge. To take advantage of data analytics, however, it is important to rely on a reliable source of data and database services. 

KG2 is a well-established and reputable provider of Australia’s biggest online agriculture database and data-enabled services that are used by a huge population of Australian farmers and agribusinesses. Our farm data platform provides you with an intuitive analytics dashboard where you can keep track of and analyse your ag data insights seamlessly.