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I spent yesterday at the Pennsylvania Farm Show (the largest indoor agricultural event in the US) looking at tractors that cost more than my house. OK, I did visit the cow and sheep barns and look longingly at the chickens. But the real reason I was there was to see lots of farm equipment from many different vendors in one place. What equipment it was. While my husband and I will likely not replace our two old (over 30 years old), reliable Case/IH tractors that he can fix himself, the appeal of new “hardware” is strong.

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Looking at technically sophisticated equipment from John Deere, Case/IH, New Holland, Mahindra, Kubota, even Bobcat (with a mounted soil sampler) I was struck by the challenges that must face any farmer who wants to collect data from all his equipment, of various ages and probably from various manufacturers, and use it to manage the farm. In the absence of generally agreed upon data standards, each manufacturer probably has a proprietary format for telematics data. What happens if my planter is from New Holland but my sprayer is from John Deere? How can I pull planting data captured by one machine, application data captured by another, and yield data captured by my combine into my farm management system and use it to get a holistic view of my fields? And then there’s the issue of weather data, soil analysis data, and the soil moisture data that might soon be available from NASA’s SMAP satellite. The challenges of the data integration required to make precision farming work boggle my mind and make me want to go back to the days of the tractors you see below. Yes, it was also Antique Tractor Day at the Farm Show.

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If you are interested in discussing data integration topics related to Precision Agriculture, you might be interested in the SAP/F4F Precision Agriculture Summit, taking place Feb. 4.

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