US agriculture was early to use ICTs to improve efficiency. I recall sharing stories of information-savvy farmers with my classes in Ohio in the early 1990s. Now data is available of soil and weather conditions at a micro-level and farmers are beginning to be concerned that this big data when combined with other data could result in the rigging of futures markets:
And the interested parties are familiar names on the farm—names like DuPont and, of course, Monsanto, which is on a buying spree. Monsanto bought the high-tech farm equipment maker Precision Planting in 2012. Last October, it bought the Climate Corporation, a data-analytics firm that provides weather-related farm services and crop insurance, and is also handling Monsanto’s fledgling data-related services. DuPont hasn’t exactly been slouching either, launching Encirca, “a new suite of whole-farm decision services aims to help improve productivity and profitability for the farmer.”
Monsanto and other seed companies ostensibly want to use the data to help farmers get higher yields on the same amount of land. But the big brands have to assure farmers that all their information will be closely guarded.
According to the Associated Press , farmers worry that “hedge funds or a large company with access to ‘real-time’ yield data from hundreds of combines at harvest time might be able to use that information to speculate in commodities markets long before the government issues crop-production estimates.”