Over the past 12 months it feels like we’ve turned a corner.
There has been talk for many years about the power of data and the way it can revolutionise farming and food production. Yet the talk hasn’t always been matched by the walk. But now it seems the use of data, particularly when it comes to sustainable food production, is becoming a core activity throughout the food chain from the farm to the retailer shelf.
As the articles in this year’s Horizon publication attest, much is being done at a practical and pragmatic level with data, from improving on-farm efficiency through to international marketing. It all proves that with better information at our fingertips, we can and will make better decisions.
But it isn’t easy. Much of the data in our sector is messy and fragmented and the industry is going to need to be able to do these data-driven things at significant scale if we are to realise the opportunities and mitigate the risks of food production.
Within our own business, our Pure Farming data exchange platform is starting to come into its own: enabling us to integrate and tidy up data from disparate sources and then use it intelligently to deliver on-farm measurement and change towards environmental targets such as a reduction in the supply chain’s Scope 3 emissions.
The story in these pages of the Statham family’s cotton farm based in Australia is a fabulous example of data being used in all facets of the business – understanding the opportunity to produce more sustainably, developing technology that can scale, and backing it up with robust and defensible science that is hard to knock. The Stathams are setting a standard for what is possible and in doing so moving their business from one of price taker, to price maker.
That’s a fantastic achievement but it shouldn’t be unique. Their example should be a beacon for others to follow. A demonstration that data should be the friend of the farmer, not something to fear. It’s why we are signing up to the new Farm Data Principles data certification scheme in the UK (you can read more about the scheme at the back of these pages) and have adopted the Australia Farm Data Code, to give farmers reassurance that in our business we are handling data transparently and respectfully.
We hope others will follow and help release the power of digital in our sector. Because the evidence of the past year suggests there is much to gain from independent, credible and trusted use of data throughout the supply chain.
Farmers need to know there are benefits from this. What follows in this year’s Horizon should leave no-one in any doubt…
< View more articles