Big Data in Agriculture

big data in agriculture

Recent Developments in Big Data in Agriculture

Analysis within Precision Agriculture

Big data in agriculture and its analysis is the next wave in technology to support all aspect of our lives. In agriculture, data management has long been recognised as is an opportunity to drive farm efficiency. It is only through the development new tools in data capture and data sharing that such opportunities can be realised. New technology development in agriculture has shifted from sensors and machines to methods in big data analysis.  

An IP landscape assessment of the development in precision agriculture before 2010 shows that more than 70% of the innovations centre on the control of machines, vehicles, implements, and crop sprayers.

Innovations in big data in agriculture and analysis management, centres on image analysis, plant mapping and crop mapping.  This data combines to assess the performance and management of crops, soils and related field operations.

Over the last 5 years companies have realised that growers are looking for way to link farm data to farm operations as well as innovations that support decision making. Future farming systems will be automated and to achieve this, data collection and processing, or big data analysis will be fundamental.

Patents developed over the last 5 years specific to data management and precision agriculture shows that software systems that generate performance recommendations or act as prescriptive management tools are emerging as the future battle ground for innovation development.

Big data analysis in Precision Agriculture is developing as the

battleground in patent protection

The figure below is a heat map of the key area covered by recent patents in precision agriculture and data management. The new data management systems will generate information on crop and field characteristics, which will be used to develop final performance and crop management recommendations. More than simple business methods, outcomes from such systems will, via wireless connection, drive future tractors, implements and robotic platforms.  

The innovations may not be specific to any one sensor or imaging technologies, but will use a collection of real time and historical datasets to drive their outcomes.

Figure 1 Heat map of the key elements of recent patents developed in precision agriculture and data management.


Some specific examples of recent data management patents


The Climate Corporation

Since 2012, Climate Corporation has developed a number of patents covering methods for data collection and management in agricultural systems. A number of these patents focus on methods for recommending agricultural activities based on the processing of both real-time and historical data.

The aim of such systems is to develop a prescription for future agricultural activities. Access to field, crop and weather data will be essential. These systems may use data from different sources to create solutions and communicate outcomes to machines or smart phones.

Trimble Navigation

Trimble is a leader in the development of innovations in precision agriculture.  They have developed a range of sensor and imaging technologies such as Greenseeker®.  Over the last 10 years the company has secured a number of patents in data management.  

Such patents focus on methods to estimate plant growth and develop corresponding field prescriptions. Data from ground and satellite based sensors are combined to develop accurate plant growth predictions.

The predictions are used together with soil, crop and weather database information to create customised field prescription maps that show where, when and how much fertiliser, pesticide or other treatment should be applied to a field to maximise crop yield.  

Open sharing of big data in agriculture is the key for future innovations

The importance of data management is recognised and many growers are providing their farm data to service providers so that the data forms part of a central databases. The hope is that such databases become available as an open source of data to help grow innovations in big data analysis and management.

However, it is clear from the recent development in patents covering data management that companies have recognised the importance securing the novel techniques for the use of farm data.

If you are a developer of new software tools on big data analysis, it will be important to assess the methods you use against existing patents.

TechMAC can assist you assess existing technologies in data management so that you are free to develop and commercialise your innovations. Read more about Data and Privacy here.