US: The Congressional Research Service recently released a report describing the big data ecosystem for U.S. agriculture. The purpose of the report was to understand the federal government’s role in emerging big data sources and technologies involved in U.S. agriculture.
Megan Stubbs, who is the author of the report, points out, there is not even a standard definition of big data. “Big data may significantly affect many aspects of the agricultural industry although the full extent and nature of its eventual impacts remain uncertain. …It is still unclear how big data will progress within agriculture due to technical and policy challenges, such as privacy and security, for producers and policymakers.”
The report divides up the agricultural big data ecosystem into two major sources. “Public-level big data represent records that are collected, maintained and analyzed through publicly funded sources, specifically by federal agencies (e.g., farm program participant records, Soil Survey and weather data).”
“Private big data represent records generated at the production level and originate with the farmer or rancher (e.g., yield, soil analysis, irrigation levels, livestock movement and grazing rates).”
The rest of the report details the major actors in creating and using public-level big data and private big data. This mapping of the major data producers and consumers gives a high-level overview of how big data flows in the agriculture ecosystem.
The report then discusses common issues that all the actors face such as security, privacy and ownership of the data. Benefits from the big data are also discussed. As the author observes, there is a mixture of public-level and private big data flowing through the ecosystem that further complicates policy issues as the agriculture industry continues to develop.