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Why Data Management Is Critical for Farming

Agriculture has always been a data-driven industry (Datamin, 2022) because farmers have measured yields and weather conditions since antiquity. With the advent of new technologies, however, data management in modern farming has become critical. The utilisation of sophisticated sensors, satellites and other equipment has allowed farmers to collect an enormous amount of data, which can help improve crop yields, reduce costs, and increase profitability. Without effective data management practices, data can quickly become overwhelming but useless.

The modern farm generates multiple types of data, ranging from soil and weather conditions to crop yield and equipment performance. Effective data management is essential for farmers because it allows them to make informed decisions based on accurate and timely information.

Some of the multiple benefits of data management for farming are:

1. Improved crop yield. Accurate and up-to-date data can help farmers optimise planting and harvesting times, select the best crop varieties, and monitor soil and weather conditions. These advantages can all lead to increased yields.

2. Reduced costs. With better data management, farmers can identify areas where they reduce waste and optimise the use of resources, such as water, fertilizer and energy, resulting in cost savings.

3. Increased profitability. By improving crop yields and reducing costs, data management can help farmers increase their profitability and remain competitive in a rapidly changing industry.

Data management in farming involves four key stages: collection, storage, analysis, and utilisation of data. During the first stage, farmers need to collect data concerning various parameters (such as soil values, weather conditions, crop growth, and yield quality and quantity) through various tools, for instance, sensors, drones, weather stations. Data collection may be complemented by direct observation and manual data entry.

Once the data is collected, it needs to be organised and stored in a structured manner. Cloud-based storage solutions can be an excellent option for farmers, as they provide easy access to data from anywhere, at any time.

Data analysis is a crucial stage in the data management process, as it allows farmers to identify trends, patterns and insights that can help improve farming practices. Advanced analytics tools, especially those powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI), can provide real-time data insights, allowing farmers to understand the health and conditions of their cultures and realise what the main factors affecting their growth and quality are.

Finally, farmers can get to data utilisation, which is the goal of data management in farming. The insights gained through data analysis must turn into actionable strategies and informed decisions.

The effective management of data will open new opportunities to improve the lives and livelihoods of smallholder farmers by lowering cost and reducing information asymmetries.

As stated in Farm data management, sharing and services for agriculture and development (FAO, 2021), ‘However, the lack of experience in data management or adoption of data driven services can limit the possibilities of digital transformation.’ The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations issued this publication to strengthen the skills of professionals who use and manage data for the benefit of farmers and farming organisations. You can download the book here

Despite the crucial importance of data management in farming, appropriate training of farmers may be necessary to develop the right competencies to apply it. At the same time, technological development itself helps to make data analysis easier and effective. For example, Farmer Charlie platform includes AI to recommend the best decisions available to farmers, on the basis of the data collected. In so doing, even less expert or technologically literate farmers can access the best agricultural options thanks to a user-friendly, easy-to-read approach, regardless of the language they speak and the location they live in, and limiting the need for long and difficult trainings.

We support technological development and strive to offer farmers simple and cost-effective solutions to improve their practice.

-Marina Novokhatska

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