"The next generation of agricultural managers are asking how the industry can enable seamless data exchange between machines and Farm Management Information Systems. The costs of exchanging data are high due to the lack of common implementation guidelines, data transfer protocols, message standards, and standard reference data. Producers report that it is difficult or nearly impossible to move data from one system to another. To do so almost always requires data reentry, manual data transformation, and/or specialists to manage data."
SPADE2 Project Charter
Having defined the problem, AgGateway, a non-profit consortium of businesses serving agriculture has recently launched their second phase of the Standardized Precision Ag Data Exchange (SPADE), which will encompass most records associated with crop production. The end result will be reference data (common terms), harvest use and crop protection case studies and a data exchange and conversion API Proof-of Concept.
There's no question of the need--the information gateway between segments in agriculture had been to primitive, proprietary, and parochial too long. AgGateway is made up of over 180 companies that apparently believe there's more to gain than to lose by exchanging data. (FBS recently applied for membership.)
Speaking on behalf of growers and farm accounting software publishers, there's limited downside for sharing data (your buyers and suppliers already know more about you than you realize). FBS farm users are currently "pulling" in data from feed invoices, application monitors, scales and yield monitors, packers and sundry vendors who are exporting data in generic formats like CSV and XML. The next phase is to "push" the data seamlessly from supplier to farm to buyer.
At AgGateway the biggest eBusiness push to-date has been between manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. If and when that process reaches growers the payoff will be more automated, accurate and timely information as well as opportunities to "virtually integrate" into a food/fiber value chain. While their precision farming records accumulate automatically, most good producers struggle with maintaining real-time management accounting and inventory control.
What do you think?