More Illinois Farmers Are Embracing High Tech Ag ― But Is ‘Big Data’ Too Much Like ‘Big Brother?’

Farmers have been collecting data about their farms for decades.

Now all those data are going high tech. Major agricultural companies like Monsanto, John Deere and DuPont have been developing more ways to mine that than ever before – all in the name of helping farmers make better decisions about when to plant, what to plant and how much.

It’s called big data, data farming or precision farming. And many believe it’s the next revolution in agriculture. With 9 billion people expected to be on the planet by 2050, experts say it’s important to produce as much food as possible out of every acre.

When it comes to technology 34-year-old Jeff Heepke is an early adopter. We’re always looking for that next thing,” said Heepke, who farms with his dad and two brothers outside Edwardsville.

Last summer the Heepke farm was a part of a trial for Monsanto’s FieldScripts. The service takes historic yields, soil type, and elevation and helps farmers decide what corn hybrid to plant and what seed population. A GPS-guided planter does the rest, with the help of the FieldScripts software.

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