Farm Foundation Issues Report Outlining Data Bottlenecks, Silos Limiting Innovation In Agriculture

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Agriculture today is limited by digital tools that cannot communicate and translate data between systems. To solve these challenges, industries must work together on open-source solutions, according to an issue paper released by Farm Foundation.

“Data Interoperability in Agriculture” outlines the challenges created in agriculture by digital systems that cannot share data. Food and agricultural information today remains in silos, on the farm or in specific organizations and businesses within the industry.

“The resulting data bottlenecks limit innovation and efficiency throughout the supply chain, contribute to an AgTech environment where many digital solutions have unclear value for adoption, and ultimately obscure the full picture of agriculture’s impact and potential,” the report states.

Farm Foundation is a non-partisan accelerator of practical solutions for agriculture. Today’s paper was authored by Megan Shahan, a regenerative food and agriculture consultant with The Mixing Bowl, Better Food Ventures and TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation.

“Agriculture has benefitted from leaps in technology, including precision ag equipment and digital systems to improve efficiency across the food value chain,” said Martha King, Vice President of Programs and Projects at Farm Foundation. “Unfortunately many of those systems cannot work together or share information. The industry needs open-source solutions to tie these efforts together to unlock the true potential of a digitally integrated agricultural supply chain.”

Areas that could be improved through interoperability include tracking food across the supply chain, soil management, compliance issues, business decisions, sustainability efforts and efficient resource utilization.

Farm Foundation has already begun efforts to overcome these challenges. A hackathon hosted in March brought coders together with pork industry leaders to tackle communication problems in shipping. The organization is also currently seeking partners to hold a second hackathon around challenges in regenerative ranching, which aligns grazing practices with environmental goals.

“We need everyone in agriculture and technology to work together on this important issue,” King said. “We’ve seen industries such as aviation and banking find success in these types of efforts. It will benefit every link of the value chain, from producer to agribusiness and all the way to the consumer.”