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‘Big data’ topic of Aug. 15 workshop

—By Taylor Scuglik
Public Relations Intern

The collection, sharing and utilization of “big data” is being hailed as the next big thing in agriculture.

“Big data” is defined as data whose scale, diversity and complexity require new architecture, techniques, algorithms and analytics to manage and extract value and hidden knowledge from it. Big data has become a developing tool for agriculture as farming technology advances.

In agriculture, large amounts of data such as soil maps, weather data, yield information and other statistics are collected from farms and third party companies, according to John Shoup, director of the Indiana Ag Law Foundation, and Mark Thornburg, Indiana Farm Bureau’s general counsel. These data pieces are combined to create big data, which is then analyzed and used to make decisions and customize solutions for different areas.

As technology continues to evolve, new ways of gathering and utilizing data become available. One emerging technology is the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to collect satellite images on crop conditions, Thornburg and Shoup said.

With access to all this information, farmers are faced with both opportunities and challenges. Opportunities include information for management adjustment and enhancing production efficiency. The challenges involve data ownership, how to profit from the sharing of data, access to data and how to use the information collected to make decisions.

To provide more information, Indiana Farm Bureau will hold a workshop on Aug. 15 addressing the topic of big data and its growing importance in agriculture. The workshop is geared toward Indiana farmers and agricultural stakeholders interested in learning more about big data and its applications.

“Farmers have to balance the risk of giving out this information, how secure it is and who they’re going to share it with. But they also have to think about how can this help my operation, does it make me more profitable and then make the distinction between which is more important to them,” Shoup said. “And I think with our program that we’ve put together we’re going to help them better understand the risks and legal implications.”

Attendees will hear from attorney Michelle Kaiser Bray about data privacy policy, and attorney Todd Janzen will speak about the legal aspects of unmanned aerial vehicles. Participants will also explore the use of UAVs with Dr. Kevin Price, a UAV technology representative from RoboFlight, who will discuss the type of data the drones capture and the ways it can be used and shared. Representatives from The Climate Corporation and Beck’s Hybrids have also been invited to discuss data privacy policy.

The workshop will be held at Indiana Farm Bureau’s main office in Indianapolis. The cost for the program will be $50 for registrations made by by July 14 and $75 for those made by July 31. Registration information is available at www.inaglaw/bigdata. Registration will open June 16.

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