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Bringing the cloud to the farm

Bringing the cloud to the farm

Posting in Energy

Silicon Valley cloud computing startups are taking on a whole new enterprise: agriculture. The upside of new tech? A generations-old grail: efficiency.

The beautiful vistas of the heartland are hardly short on clouds, but a new type may fundamentally change the way farmers work.

Cloud computing and Internet services for agriculture are growing in popularity, allowing farmers to keep better track of their assets -- from crops to livestock to expenses.

Despite the bucolic mental image of hard labor by hand, farmers tend to be on the cutting edge of technology. (Their iPhones are 30-ft.-long, $60,000 hay balers.) Cloud startups have largely served their own industry -- technology -- first, but increasingly they are specializing and expanding into industry verticals. Agriculture, of course, is a big one, alongside healthcare, financial services, energy and defense.

The New York Times' Randall Stross profiles a few of these companies, which include Ann Arbor, Mich.-based FarmLogs, which tracks and centralizes crop activity; Croatia's Farmeron, which brings analytics to livestock management; and Mountain View, Calif.-based Solum, which focuses on soil analysis.

"In essence," Stross writes, "Solum and other start-ups are building the technology to allow farmers to benefit from data science."

Can Silicon Valley bring a little more silicon to America's valleys? Looks like it.

Photo: Krone

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Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure