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25 Quintillion Reasons

Posted on October 09 2013 | Author: Tom Dowler

25 Quintillion – 25 followed by 18 zeros. This is the number of bytes of data that are generated in our world every single day!

Ubiquitous use of mobile devices and internet, as well as improvements in sensor technologies, machine data, GPS and other means of data production, have drastically expanded the volume of available information over recent years. Now that we know just how much data is out there, how do we distill significant value from data set after data set that are seemingly unrelated? This is where the term “Big Data” comes in.

A term that has been thrown around frequently, Big Data is a collection of complex data sets so large that until recently, could not be processed using traditional database management tools or data processing applications. Thanks to recent developments in data storage such as “The Cloud”, low cost data processing technology, and improved data mining and analytics, we now have the tools to apply these vast amounts of data to every day decisions made across industries.

The flow of Big Data platforms generally moves from data collection to integration of data sets. This data integration, often through customized algorithms, provides outputs that support decision making, business and operational actions. The overall goal of using data integration is to more efficiently accomplish the task or problem it is being applied to.

In the world of agriculture, the use of Big Data platforms to increase efficiencies, often in agricultural production, is called Precision Agriculture. This term is becoming increasingly popular in ag-industry and ag-investment circles.

As the 2009 IPhone 3G commercial stated “there’s an app for that”. This refers to the user-friendly platforms that can be set up to provide useful decision support means to customers and it is becoming increasingly more common in agriculture.

So how is Big Data being applied in agriculture? Well…
How do I link my field data to my farm equipment to ensure efficient variable rate seeding and spraying?… There’s an app for that!
How can I integrate weather data, information from soil sensors, and irrigation unit sensors to manage my water use?... There’s an app for that!
How do I manage real-time disease risks to my livestock operation?...you get the point.

Just like any other industry, a major driver of the agriculture industry is profit margins, and any means of increasing efficiencies in terms of inputs-in to yield-out is welcomed by producers. Coupled with the well documented issue of limited acres of agricultural land and increasing global population, demand for advanced methods of squeezing out greater yields per acre have set the table for Big Data to play a huge role in agriculture for years to come.

Tom Dowler
Senior Business Analyst

Image credit: www.climate.com

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