Big Tech Gets into Farming

Precision Agriculture
March 10, 2020
Self-Sovereign Identity
March 10, 2020

Big Tech Gets into Farming

Technology companies are getting into the agriculture business.

Key Insight

Technology companies are getting into the agriculture business.

Why It Matters

Farming is a difficult, often unpredictable business. But it’s one that could be drastically improved through data collection and predictive analytics.

Examples

In November, Microsoft launched FarmBeats on Azure marketplace, which is a sort of internet of things for farms. The effort is a multi-year plan to modernize agriculture with data analytics, and it is being tested on two U.S. farms in which Microsoft has invested. The system uses unlicensed long-range TV white space to to connect and capture data from solar-powered sensors, while drones gather aerial footage of crops. The data are mined and refined using machine learning algorithms, which then send analysis back to farmers with recommendations for how to tweak their resource use. The company also helped launch Grand Farm, a partnership between farmers, businesses, government, and entrepreneurs in North Dakota. Over three years, Grand Farm will help upskill workers to drive agricultural and new business innovation.

Walmart—which we think of as a technology company as well as a retailer—is opening its own meatpacking plants and dairy processing facilities in an effort to drive down costs. Meanwhile Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has invested in vertical farming. (See: Aeroponics, Vertical Farming, and Indoor Plant Factories.)

What’s Next

Farm analytics is an active area of R&D and investment. There are a number of startups actively building products and services for agriculture, which points to consolidation over the next few years.

The Impact

The agriculture market is worth an estimated $5 trillion and has serious implications for the survival of growing human populations.

Watchlist

Amazon, EarthSense, John Deere, Microsoft, Monsanto, Pollen Systems, Solinftec, TeleSense, Trace Genomics, Understory, Walmart.