Environment

Big Data is agriculture’s big blank on the map

Big Data is terra incognita for agriculture; a giant blank on the map, but for whatever the blank spot holds — the good and the bad — U.S. agriculture is charging right toward it.

The promise of new technology has always been a double-edged sword: Stand still and get left behind, move too fast and get hammered. There is seldom a reasonable medium beyond banal “proceed with caution” warnings.

The digital age has allowed GPS and precision agriculture to transform farming capabilities and hyperbole doesn’t do justice to the extent of the technological leap. But nobody, including farmers, gets to opt out of the unintended consequences of digital technology. Over the last several years, at a staccato pace, news headlines have been splashed with Wikileaks, Edward Snowden, NSA data gathering, Target security holes, EPA farmer info releases, and too many others. The sheer volume of data gaps and potential slip-ups is dizzying and begs the question: Is all digital data destined for a breach?

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