Farmers don’t need to be told that data collected on their operation is valuable. But a recently announced organization says it will literally treat these digital assets like money by providing an online bank to store and manage them securely.

The organization, Agricultural Data Coalition (ADC), is a cooperative effort among AGCO, the American Farm Bureau Federation, Auburn University, CNH Industrial, Crop IMS, The Ohio State University, Mississippi State University, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Raven Industries and Topcon Positioning Group.

“They manage that asset through the equivalent of an of an online banking system, and then just like an ATM or an online transaction, ADC is able to transmit the data on the farmer’s behalf wherever the farmer wishes,” according to ADC executive director Matt Bechdol. “Today, farmers have to store their own data, have to transmit it themselves and have to deposit assets in a number of separate banks just to do business.”

Bechdol says it is ADC’s hope to streamline these processes. Few farmers are “maximizing” data because there hasn’t been a central repository to hold, scrub, synch and transmit it, which is what ADC is developing. Bechdol says this data repository will be useful even for farmers who are currently not ready or unsure the best ways to use their data.

“It still makes sense for them to take time to deposit their information into this universal bank,” he says. “That way, they will be prepared when they need the data or choose to put it to work.”

It’s critical that farmers retain ownership and control of their own private data that originates from the work on their operation, adds AFBF president Zippy Duvall.

“Harnessing that proprietary information for field-level efficiency and effectiveness is the key that will unlock more profitability and the greater adoption of precision agriculture,” he says. “That's good for business and the environment, too."

Meantime, John Fulton, precision agriculture specialist for Ohio State, says access to these data sets will help his university accelerate the development of new farm technologies.

“We will be able to evaluate and enhance ag data services, and Extension will be able to enhance programming with near real-time information delivery on cropping conditions, growing condition alerts and recommendations,” he says.

For more information, visit www.AgDataCoalition.org