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2016 Commodity Classic: What is OADA?

As an Indiana farmer, Aaron Ault knows firsthand that data is a hassle. He also knows that it holds great promise for the future of his farm. Yet, there haven’t been any clear answers on what he should use his data for. 

“I don’t want to think about data,” says Ault. “I want to think about the answers data can provide. When I sprayed fungicide this year, I wanted to know how many more bushels per acre I could get because of that fungicide.”

As the project leader for the Open Agriculture Data Alliance (OADA), Ault looked at the problem and realized there was no way to move the data around.

“We have all this data, but there is no way to move it around among all the stakeholders,” says Doug Hackney, whose company, Enterprise Group, Ltd., is a lead sponsor for the OADA initiative. “There is no way to go into current ag software packages and say, ‘Save As’ and pass it to the next person who can easily open it.”

The alliance creates the framework to make that happen. “OADA is an open-source project designed to make data easier within agriculture,” notes Ault. “We’re trying to improve inter- operability, privacy, security, and to really get data working for farmers in ways that haven’t been possible in the past with individual proprietary approaches. OADA is all about trying to make data analysis simple, cheap, and fast so farmers can customize it for their individual farms. We are going to give farmers the ability to try different analysis tools and choose the ones that make sense for their farm. Once OADA becomes mature, farmers will have more options to analyze their data in ways that make sense.”

Hackney says, “OADA has nothing to do with data ownership, privacy or control. What it does is make it easier for the people who want to use the farmer’s data to pass it around.”


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