Data - The new oil of the 21st century
We are all familiar with the phrase “data is the new oil,” first coined by a British mathematician and data science entrepreneur named Clive Humby in 2006.
To give it more context, Michael Palmer, the executive vice president of the Association of National Advertisers, wrote in his blog that much like oil, data is crude. Although valuable, it cannot be used unless refined and processed into a gas, plastic, or other chemicals that drive profitable activity. In essence, data must be broken down and analyzed for it to have value.
Half a decade later, Peter Sondergaard, the senior vice-president of Gartner, expanded on Palmer’s remark. He declared that information is the oil of the 21st century and analytics the combustion engine.
Their observations hold true even after all these years. Agriculture 4.0 has paved the way for digital farming to create meaningful value from data and derive actionable intelligence to increase farm productivity, optimize costs, and mitigate both business and production risks.
But how do you mine this data and analyze the information to get the insights you need?
Benefits of data collection using modern technologies in agriculture
Digital farming apps are a grower’s best ally to capture farm data effectively. Here’s why:
- Ease of use: Using mobile apps eliminates cumbersome paperwork and ensures uniforming and standardization of data collection.
- Data quality: Capturing data on paper makes it prone to human error and data loss. In contrast, digital data can be stored effortlessly and inexpensively, duplicated, and backed up. Data processing and auditing also happen much faster, which minimizes errors.
- Increased efficiency: Digital data collection improves both speed and efficiency by reducing the time needed to capture the data, analyze it, and produce results.
- Improved visibility: Smartphone apps often store data in a centralized cloud, which means near-real-time access to data for all stakeholders and, consequently, improved transparency and visibility of the data.
- Data security: A strong password or setting up fingerprint or face recognition offers keeps the data in a smartphone safe from unauthorized access. Further, a cloud database offers the additional advantage of data encryption and other measures for secure access and reduced risk of data leaks.
A quick guide to data collection using Cropin
Cropin’s farm ERP platform allows on-ground staff to digitalize the process of capturing field data. Below are some of the ways this can be done.
- Creating farmer and farm profiles
Creating digital profiles of farmers and their farm plots allows agribusinesses to monitor the performance, concerns, and outcomes of each individual asset. The extensive profiling using the mobile app will include the farmer’s personal details along with plot-level information, such as crop variety, farm size, and declared and audited farm plot area, among others.
This captured data would then be visible in an interactive dashboard accessible through Cropin’s web application to give instant updates on each farmer. Another notable benefit of creating these digital records is that it facilitates end-to-end traceability, complete with the details of the exact farm that produced the food we eat.
- Geo-tagging & area auditing
Creating the farm profile also includes geo-tagging the plot with its GPS coordinates to precisely map its location on the application dashboard. This feature, combined with the farmer details, facilitates end-to-end traceability, marking the exact farm and farmer who produced the food we eat.
Area auditing is a feature that allows agribusinesses to get an accurate measure of the land area for crop cultivation. Often, farmers provide an approximate gross crop area, including sections of the farmland where they might not cultivate crops. Knowing the exact farm acreage allows agribusinesses to determine the quantity of agri-inputs farmers will require for the season. It also helps obtain a near-accurate yield estimate as harvest approaches.
- Customizable interfaces
Every farm has unique needs, and no agtech provider understands it better than we do. We have combined our learnings from around the world to design a highly customizable platform that simplifies data collection for any farm, be it for horticultural crops, greenhouses, plantations, or even aquaculture. Map your plot in acres or as ponds, by rows of trees, or by the number of trays - we've got you covered. What’s more, you can also plan for the season and configure tasks and activities accordingly.
What if you have data captured previously using a legacy system, or you have IoT devices to do the data collection for you? Integrations are our answer to that. Interconnect other systems like SAP with ours through APIs and create a connected data universe for easy sharing and advanced analytics.
- Project planning
While agriculture is a never-ending cycle of processes spread across the supply chain, crop production happens in smaller cycles. Cropin helps you plan each crop season as a project by configuring activities for every crop variety and sub-variety and monitoring them remotely. With Cropin, you can manage multi-crop and multi-location projects on a single end-to-end platform. Track activities, production expenses, and the ownership of farm resources from wherever you are. At the start of a new season, you can avoid the hassle of planning from scratch by replicating past projects without modifying the farmer and plot.
For each project, the field staff can set up tasks for each farmer and track their completion during the season. They include both scheduled tasks, such as pre-sowing or planting, and unscheduled ones. The primary difference between the two is that scheduled tasks need to be filled once only in a season, along with a due date for each. Field agents can select from a list of pre-filled data and capture images when submitting these tasks. Meanwhile, unscheduled tasks are not limited to a specific time window. The field staff can use them to capture information like yield estimates or notes multiple times in the season.
- Package of Practices (PoP)
One of the components of crop production that we need to emphasize here is establishing the package of practices (PoP) or the book of practices (BoP) for a crop variety. To obtain the highest quantity and quality of yield, growers need to ensure the right growing conditions for the plants. With our farm ERP platform, you can configure scheduled (time-bound) or unscheduled PoP for each crop variety based on recommendations from agronomists, to include the following activities:
- Pre-sowing (seed treatment, seed cutting, transplanting, etc.)
- Application of fertilizers and other inputs
- Crop protection
- Measuring MRL (maximum residue level) and PHI (preharvest interval)
- QA or QC
There is an added advantage to tracking PoP digitally. It enables agribusiness to ensure compliance with quality certification and export requirements. The captured field data can be used to track and regulate critical parameters that impact quality, such as input application, pesticide residues, alerts raised and resolved (if any) during cultivation, and other specific compliance regulations, such as organic cultivation. The same information also enables farm-to-shelf traceability and transparency, allowing customers to deepen their trust in the brand. You can read more about this here.
- Forms is a powerful data collection tool that allows users to build surveys and feedback forms effortlessly. Think of it as a Google Form but more tailored for farm operations to obtain structured and organized intelligence from the field.
- Create forms for every occasion and get data inputs such as text or numbers, drop-downs, images, files, or a signature. It helps capture data against specific entities, including farmers, crops, regions, alerts, events, and plans, among others. If users need options other than the in-build ones, there are also custom fields for data capturing based on the user requirements.
- A simple example of how a form can be used is data collection during the farmer onboarding process. When creating the digital profile, field agents can use a pre-configured form to collect the personal information of the farmer. It can include name, address, phone number, identification number, photograph, and any other information that the business might need for its records. The form can also be customized to capture carbon scores by tracking practices for cover crop, biochar, organic farming, chemical application, and machinery usage.
Now that you have collected as much information as required, you can analyze, structure, and derive meaningful insights that drive intelligent decisions for business growth.
Discover the many exciting ways you can use Cropin to make the most of farm data.