2023 marks ten years since Bayer’s acquisition of Climate Corp, a defining moment in the rise of digital agtech. Industry heavyweights look at what has been achieved in the digitization of agriculture, what has the industry learned? Industry heavyweights share the new frontiers in tech we can expect for the decade ahead.
“When Bayer bought The Climate Corporation in 2013, farmers used our digital agronomy tools across 10M unpaid acres in the US. Recent Climate Fieldview usage is reported at 180M paid acres worldwide. Agronomic and environmental data has grown by at least an order of magnitude every year since 2013 and the availability and utilization of digital tools has meaningfully moved the needle on ag productivity. But we are still in early days. Genomic and metagenomic data, driven by low-cost DNA sequencing, are once again transforming agriculture, with many more orders of magnitude data being generated about plants and their environment.
Two key problems remain – no single dataset on its own can make predictive discrete agronomic recommendations and farmers remain reluctant to pay for digital tools. Going forward, we should expect that the successful integration of all data, offered as part of a value-based service or input package, will likely rewrite the entire inputs, servicing, and production marketplace, once again transforming how the global agriculture industry feeds the world.” David Friedberg, Chairman and CEO, THE PRODUCTION BOARD
“The last 10 years have seen a significant shift in agriculture, most notably from being intuition-driven to being data-driven. Today, mid to large-scale farms can capture and use data to drive decisions – from planting to management, and harvest, while operating sustainably. These advancements just scratch the surface of what’s possible. The next 10 years will see the next phase of “intelligent” data-driven agriculture. Data will be captured at a finer resolution and advanced artificial intelligence will make better predictions, to help farms of all sizes, including small holder farmers, be more productive and profitable, while helping agriculture become a sustainable source for food, feed, fiber, and fuel.” Ranveer Chandra, Managing Director for Research for Industry, CTO of Agri-Food, MICROSOFT
“If we look back on the last 10 years, it is astounding to see what the industry has accomplished with sensors and IoT to capture and leverage data to empower farmers globally. And this is just the beginning when we think about the power of machine learning and artificial intelligence to drive meaningful insights and outcomes. It is the dawn of a new era for agriculture. We are working with our customers at AWS to advance innovation with unprecedented speed and scale. As an industry we have set our sights on solving the most complex challenges facing humanity, and we will need to collaborate across the agri-food value chain out of necessity. We are excited to think boldly alongside our customers and help them invent towards that future.” Elizabeth Fastiggi, Head of Worldwide Business Development, Agriculture, AWS
“We’re only scratching the surface of what these technologies will bring to our customers, the ag value chain, and our planet. In the years ahead, I believe that consumers will be able to make informed purchasing decisions based on how something was produced, paying a premium to farmers because of how they raised their crops. I believe farmers will have more incentive and opportunity to farm regeneratively and use their data to connect more deeply with the food, feed, fiber, and fuel supply chains that start in their fields, and I believe our partnerships will bring all of this to global scale.” Jeremy Williams, Head of Climate and Digital Farming, BAYER CROP SCIENCE
“As a growing collective of global agri-food technology businesses, we have learned to lean into our customers’ needs to enhance and develop digitization strategies. Digitization involves more than providing the best technology. It’s about realizing insights and making better decisions in real-time, and we are helping our customers do so with all the data they collect. We have learned how to help customers collect, analyze, and interpret data from internal and external sources. Doing so requires a level of cooperation between players in the supply chain, including competitors. “One step back” and “one step forward” is no longer sufficient. Data from points of origin to points of consumption is now essential.
We know we can improve the supply chain as a whole, instead of in fragments. Throughout the agri-food system, we share the challenge to enable traceability, safety, sustainability, and resilience. Our vision for the future is a thriving and resilient agri-food system. The journey will involve many players who jointly create technology-driven solutions that can be leveraged to provide insights for the entire agri-food community. Building confidence in the food supply over the next 10 years will be key — and this endeavor will unlock opportunities for everyone involved.” Rich Reynertson, President, CULTURA TECHNOLOGIES
“The digitization of agriculture has been driven by entrepreneurs up and down the supply chain throughout history. The technologies that have been developed have generated an enormous amount of data. However, this data remains largely scattered throughout operations ecosystems and information silos. As an industry we have learned that integrations are important. Participants are working together today more than ever and sharing information to enhance user experiences. The challenge over the next 10 years is to continue to unlock the value Farmers and Advisors are seeking. This value journey is a difficult one that involves much deeper industry collaboration and the agreement on standardization of basic information to facilitate value exchange between participants. This continues to be a complex issue and requires intentional dialogue to gain understanding to continue to build solutions for the future.” Ryan Risdal, President of Product and Strategy, PROAGRICA