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Open Ag Data Alliance Launched

Gil Gullickson Updated: 03/14/2014 @ 9:58am Crops Technology Editor for Successful Farming magazine/Agriculture.com

Several industry groups this week moved to address farmer concerns regarding privacy of farmer field data by launching the Open Ag Data Alliance (OADA).

The OADA forms an open standards software project to ensure farmers have full data access, security, and privacy, say those forming the OADA.

“We hear from farmers that they need to have data be private and secure,” says David Friedberg, chief executive officer of The Climate Corporation.

One way he says OADA will do this is to ensure farmers that they'll be able to seamlessly and securely move data between equipment, software, and services. This will be done, he says, by speeding the development of technical standards for data formatting and interoperability that will be openly developed and shared. He says OADA will develop the capabilities to support the security and privacy rules that farmers and community groups need. This will help ensure that farmer data is respected and protected by all software and organizations the farmer selects, he says.

Aaron Ault, senior research engineer for the Open Ag Technology Group at Purdue University and also a farmer, will be OADA project lead.

“As a farmer, I need the freedom to select the right hardware, software, and services for my operation,” said Ault in a news release. “The open standards of OADA will give farmers the flexibility and control they need to choose data science products and services that will work on their farms to help manage their data and make more data-driven decisions, enabling the next wave of agricultural production.”

The Open Ag Technology Group’s work at Purdue combines the academic disciplines of agricultural and biological engineering, electrical and computer engineering, and computer science to research all elements of agricultural technology, from mobile and cloud applications to farm machinery. The group has been supported by individual farms, the agriculture industry, and the USDA-NIFA through several grants. Purdue professors Jim Krogmeier and Dennis Buckmaster colead the group and support their involvement in OADA.

“It is relatively easy to understand why growers are sensitive to where the data is going and how it is being utilized,” says Mike Vande Logt, WinField executive vice president and chief operating officer. He adds that steps like the formation of OADA will help boost farmer confidence in how use of field data can benefit them.  

Besides Purdue, Winfield, and The Climate Corporation, other entities involved in OADA include:

  • AgReliant Genetics
  • CNH Industrial
  • Growmark
  • Valley Irrigation
  • Wilbur-Ellis Company

More information about OADA can be found at: http://openag.io/.

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Data Security? 03/14/2014 @ 10:07am The open standards goal is attractive, but I wonder in this day and age of digital spying how anyone can be sure that someone does not access data in a cloud? Data in cloud storage or passing to and from cloud storage is subject to interception, as the NSA aptly demonstrates. It's hard for me to believe that any corporation that has access to one's data will not be powerfully tempted to rationalize using that data, perhaps excusing it by saying it removes names and IDs, for their own larger purposes. I'd be more enthused about a system that could be run totally within my computer resources and did not have to travel over or to the cloud.

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Re: Re: Data Security? 03/15/2014 @ 10:44am James, This is an excellent question. The OADA approach is designed so that if you want your own cloud storage on your farm, you can simply download the open source code from the project, install it on your own server, and all your data can remain entirely on your farm. You are exactly correct that a single cloud service that holds all the world's agricultural data would be a prime target for attacks. That's why we're focused on enabling secure interoperability to enable data to remain distributed while still providing all the benefits that data analytics and cloud computing can provide. OADA is dedicated to providing the framework for farmers to choose whatever data management solution works for them.

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