By Andrew Nusca
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.
Aug 15, 2012
When marketing companies flood the airwaves of the midwest with ads for the next big tractor or the next big combine. Why plant 10 rows at a time when we can plant 12, 14, 16, 18 rows. Bigger is better. Blah, blah, blah. Small farmers bought the BS and bought over sized farm equipment that was really overkill for their size of property. The near mortgage sized payments that came with huge and modern overwhelmed many of those small farms who are now out of business. They were bought up by the big agra companies who merged small farms and put that oversized equipment to good use on land big enough to make it profitable. There are some great tools becoming available, but farmers need to be smart about what is cost effective for their situation. One technology advancement has hurt the old radio marketing that fed the earlier problems. Most farmers now listen to commercial free iPods while they spend hours in the fields to avoid the head games of endless marketing pitches on the radio.
Farmers have been running a lot of aspects of their operations, getting Markets, Weather and Information from Smart Phones for more than a few years. Between 93-95% of them use 'Smart Phones', which has become their 'Broadband' Connection as the Moguls dither and posture about deploying same in Rural America. (It's more about Market Hegemony than technological issues-but that's a different story. If any company wants to REALLY engage this group, making their Product, Program or Service accessible to Smart Phones will make them a keeper to this demographic-even after the "Powers that be" get around to that Rural Broadband.