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Q&A: Innovation Expert Lisa Prassack

The interview below was published in the Mid-November issue of Successful Farming magazine.

SF: What trends are you seeing in tech adoption?

LP: Overall, ag tech adoption remains slow and uneven. However, big data holds great promise for ag. Large technology companies like Dell, GE, IBM, Bosch, and Verizon are putting resources into the ag sector. Ag needs to work with these companies to create value with new and better products. Technology is also advancing and becoming less expensive and more abundant. Sensors are everywhere – in soil, implements, weather stations, and pivots. Imagery as a dynamic decision-making tool is emerging.

SF: How will the trends affect future adoption? 

LP: For the ag data value chain, we need connectivity, data collection, integration, and storage. It is beginning to firm up and show value. As we advance to the next phase, adoption will increase. 

In the meantime, we need to think from farmers’ points of view first. What problems are they trying to solve? How can we help them find a best fit for their operations? Will it help increase yields or profits? Decrease costs? What support can be provided?

SF: How is data impacting agriculture today?  

LP: Spatial data now determines land value. Data helps the farm keep pace with compliance and regulatory needs. Succession planning and farm integration strategies are using record-keeping systems to capture and share field knowledge and decision criteria in software such as Conservis and Granular. 

We are also seeing benefits from integrated solutions, such as Climate FieldView, that allows farmers to see agronomic and financial benefits by visualizing the field and, more recently, giving them the opportunity to respond to issues such as the impact of compaction on yields as opposed to a lack of nitrogen. 

Data cooperatives are emerging to collect, manage, store, and create benchmarks. There are large ones, like FBN, that help growers benchmark seed performance, and there are smaller groups of 10 to 20 farmers working together to collect data, plan, and make decisions as an advisory team. 

SF: What are the ag data pain points? How do we overcome them? 

LP: Data integration and collaboration are essential. Three areas must change for this to happen. We cannot ask farmers to enter data by hand. To achieve high-quality data and to ensure adoption of new systems, the process needs to be automated.

Once we collect good data, we need user-friendly dashboards that can turn raw data into a form that’s of immediate relevance and financial value to farmers.

Finally, I see so many companies working to win the data game by owning the development and integration of the entire solution. What would benefit farmers and their advisers is to have the best solutions collaborating to build integrated solutions NOW – not in two to three years.

SF: How do you respond to data privacy concerns?  

LP: We need to be conscientious about how we collect, use, and share data. In the near term, we don’t have the clearest vision on what the value of farm data will be. We would benefit from participating in a farm data consolidation effort that we trust to enable analytics to happen across a large, quality data set that will help all farmers be more successful.


Name: Lisa Prassack

TITLE: President of Prassack Advisors, LLC

HOME: Denver, CO

BACKGROUND: Prassack has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Penn State University, and she attended the University of Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business. She has held management and executive positions with companies such as GE, HP, and Trimble Agriculture.

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