Towards a New Data Standard in UK Agriculture


Farm data can be harvested, bought and sold, just like any other crop. But as a farmer, you rarely know when this happens, and almost never get the benefit.

We feel passionately about this. You should own your own data. You should have ultimate control over it. And where someone profits from this data, you should receive a significant share.

In this article we propose 5 principles that companies handling farm data should adhere to. By promoting transparency and understanding, these principles would help you regain ownership and control of your farm data.

Farm data is intellectual property - your trade secrets or special sauce - which is why data privacy in agriculture is so important. However most of a farm’s data is collected and managed by other companies, from your tractor manufacturer to precision planting and farm management softwares. Once these businesses have your information, it’s often hard to tell where it goes and what happens to it.

“Data is one of the most valuable things farmers harvest” ~ Jason Tatge

It can be incredibly valuable, but what’s your data actually worth? The companies that profit most from it work hard to hide its real value.

Farmobile, a US data company, buys agronomic data directly from farms from $1/acre, with one farmer earning the equivalent of £13'700 in 2016 alone. Data is an infinite commodity, which can be sold multiple times per season to different buyers, its value compounded year-on-year.

There’s also non-monetary value to be had from sharing your data. Take benchmarking, for example. If you follow these five rules, sharing and benchmarking data can empower you to improve performance and drive profitability.

We need a new data standard in UK Agriculture. One which promotes transparency and understanding, empowers farmers and ensures companies handling farm data are held accountable for their practices. That’s why we’re proposing 5 principles for farm data handling:

5 principles for farm data handling

1. Farms should own their dataIt is your intellectual property and should be treated as such.

2. Companies handling farm data should have clear and transparent data policiesThese should be easily accessible and written in clear and common language.

3. Farms should have control over their dataYou should have the right to move, copy, transfer, remove or delete it. It's your property, it's your right to decide where it sits.

4. Farms should be able to move freely across service providersYou should feel no restriction to picking up all your data and moving to a different service provider.

5. Farms should take a fair share of the value of their dataSelling your data must have your explicit opt-in consent, whether in return for money or services in kind.

At Yagro we believe in the power of data and the positive impact it can have in agriculture. We believe farm data should be owned and controlled by the farm. We believe farmers should have fair and equitable access to the insights and value generated by their data. And we believe this will be critical for ensuring the sustainability of the UK farming sector, something well worth fighting for.