Data as a strategic asset: investing in farm data

Just like any other asset, data only becomes valuable when captured, stored, maintained and protected in an appropriate way. It also needs to be validated and accessible. And as with any tool on the farm, data-generated insights need to be capable of being refreshed and updated frequently, in some cases every day, in order to remain useful and relevant for decision making. 

When investing in farm data look for tools that work for your operation. Some key questions to ask of any potential provider:

How easy is it to use?

Data collection shouldn’t be painstaking, time consuming or done in duplicate. Input should be easy and swift – a key KPI for Trev is that farm data should only take 10 minutes a week out of a busy farmer’s schedule.  If “measure twice, cut once” is the builders’ motto, then “enter once, enter right” should be the mantra for farm data systems.

Will my information display accurately?

Data also needs to be accurate when entered, and tools with built in validation that can cleanse data is essential. It’s also important that a user has the ability to validate the data themselves.  

Can I pair my data with other tools?

Data has to be capable of being applied across a number of selected software apps. Accurate livestock data and associated feeding levels, for example, could be leveraged not only in farm management tools, but also flow into the cashflow predictions of financial platforms such as Figured, or into GHG software calculations.

Inevitably then, interoperability, the ability of different tools to ‘talk’ to each other whilst sharing the same data source, becomes vital. It is a requirement companies are rapidly determining among themselves to ensure the “enter once, enter right” mantra is adhered to.

Can I share my data with my stakeholders?

Stakeholders in the farm’s circle of trust - whether owners, managers, staff or those outside the farm gate - should be privy to the right information.  All should know that the information they are viewing has been generated from the same data source, ensuring accurate, relevant and valid comparisons can be made to make quality decisions.

Does it do what I need it to?

Farmers should also expect tools to have a high degree of flexibility, with the capability of tailoring how their data is presented to them, so it reflects every different farm system’s unique set of needs in terms of report layout, type and content. Farm data systems should put the farmer in the middle, and provide choice across a suite of reports and input sources, delivering relevant, timely and accurate reports that enhance business profitability and sustainability.

Do I own my data?

Look for tools where you have complete control of your data.  Users should be able to access data at any time in a range of formats, including in its rawest form.

Other things to consider...

Make sure to check a company’s policy around data security. Look for a company that’s agile and prepared to listen to customer feedback, and finally invest in a tool that works the way you like to work, be it out on the farm or in the office 

Every farming operation is different so there will be no one tool to rule them all.  This generally means farm businesses end up with an ecosystem of tools/apps that can easily capture and leverage the data relating to a farm. 

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