Even as planting season started this spring so too did harvest.
No not the harvest of corn and soybeans but the harvest of data. And the big players in this space are the mega bio-science companies Monsanto and Pioneer Hi-Bred who are harvesting millions of acres worth of data annually.
Those living alongside the dusty country roads out in the Heartland have had a front row seat in watching these companies jockey for position in this new digital agricultural sweepstakes. It is also catching the eye of Wall Street as well. In last week’s June 14th edition of the Wall Street Journal there was a feature article on the new “Data Harvest” taking place in agriculture.
There is no doubt in my mind that the recent purchase of the precision hardware company Precision Planting by the genetic powerhouse Monsanto prompted the writer to pen this article.
If you will recall a few weeks ago on my blog I wrote about Monsanto shaking up the precision ag world with this purchase. I said then that the purchase had little to do with the purchase of a profitable hardware company. Rather it had everything to do with access to some of the best real-time planting data a researcher and a sales team could ever ask for.
But what was really intriguing about the article was the mention of another company – MachineryLink – who is also entering the race for data. For those of you who have not heard the name MachineryLink it is a company based in Kansas City that leases combines to producers all across North America. MachineryLink has created a company called FarmLink that is going to be collecting valuable real-time harvest data from their massive fleet of combines. FarmLink will then distribute that data to its grower customers and then market it to crop insurers, farm management firms and farmland investors such as pension funds. Now you know why Wall Street is so interested in what’s going on in the country!
Monsanto, Pioneer and FarmLink are just a handful of the companies that are attempting to fill the niches of this new market. It has the feel of a modern-day gold rush and no doubt there’s going to be booms and busts and plenty of excitement along the way.
Jeff Banker a FarmLink representative quoted in the article summed it up the best of what’s going on.
“Every business that exists now is a data business,” said Banker. “Farming is just on the cusp of that.”
To read more about this story check out the article entitled: Farmers Prepare for the Data Harvest from the Thursday, June 14th Business Technology section of the Wall Street Journal.