Bennett Kireker from New York spent summers on his grandparents’ apple orchard along the Hudson River. While he is now based in Pismo Beach, California, he still flies out to New York to reconnect with his farming roots. He also works with farmers near Pismo Beach to improve their harvests. Bennett J Kireker is a distributor of agricultural equipment, including seeding machines and plows, but recognizes the growing role of new and disruptive technologies in future farms. These include the Internet of Things and big data.
For Bennett Kireker of New York, farming is not the most exact of sciences. While farmers and researchers alike have access to all sorts of tools to predict soil conditions, weather patterns, and crop yields, the results they get are often far from the predictions churned out by different models. Thus, many farmers, especially in underdeveloped economies, rely instead on traditional modes of farming that neither maximize crop yield nor prove to be sustainable in the long run.
However, several researchers believe that the issue lies not with the type of data that is available, but rather, with the amount of it. Bennett J Kireker believes that modern agriculture should focus on real-time monitoring of soil, weather, and crops, instead of using the previous growing season’s patterns. This strategy is most applicable to areas that are vulnerable to climate change, especially the tropics. Traditional methods of handling data, however, are not able to capture everything that contributes to plant and animal development.
Thus, Bennett Kireker suggests that farmers and agricultural departments shift to Big Data methods when acquiring and analyzing information. These models utilize a massive amount of both historical and current data to create a more complete picture of the farm’s current condition and its condition in the next few days, weeks, and even months. Using a set of sensors deployed strategically throughout the farm, data is fed into a central server which churns out reports in visual form. These could take the form of charts and heat maps.
Similarly, drones and mini-weather stations could also feed data into the server, with the latter producing more reports that may be viewed using a mobile app, or, in the case of developing economies, in SMS format. Thus, Bennett J Kireker believes, farmers can then have all the information they need to plan the next planting and harvest cycles at their fingertips.
Researchers are only beginning to scratch the surface of what big data can do in agriculture. Bennett Kireker, New York native, is excited to see how else these technologies can make a positive impact on farms and farmers worldwide.