November 6, 2019 By Karam Singh Sethi 4 min read

The agriculture industry is not necessarily known for data analytics capabilities. But that’s changing as access to exponential technology grows.

A new state-of-the-art data and analytics platform is helping farmers better predict weather patterns and calculate crop nutrition. The ultimate goal: fresh, sustainable food on tables around the world.

Hendrik Meine, a third-generation farmer, owns and operates Meine-Claus in rural Germany.

Hendrik Meine holds wheat, his most cherished crop

“My father used to rely on word of mouth from ground staff to figure out how much fertilizer was needed in each field,” Meine said. “Now we have sensors everywhere telling us exactly what is needed for each plant.”

With these technology advances, Meine is able to save on overhead costs, thus ensuring the business is profitable when his son takes over.

“There’s nothing that connects us more than food,” Pål Øystein Stormorken, Vice President of Digital Farming at Yara International Inc., said. “Food is a common denominator for people, no matter your background.”

Peter Rylander, Executive Partner at IBM, agrees. Together, Stormorken and Rylander are on a mission to responsibly feed the planet and empower independent farmers.

Their vision: a sustainable world without hunger.

Coffee beans being cleaned and dried

That’s an increasingly important task as climate change continues to effect crop fields.

The world’s population is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, according to the UN. As climate change—extreme weather, soil loss, migration pressures—continues to put pressure on the Earth’s ability to produce food, the agriculture industry is turning to technology for help.

Yara and IBM have been working on the platform solution since May. They built a first-of-its-kind digital farming platform by leveraging IBM Digital Insights.

The two companies are focusing on creating and realizing a cloud agnostic strategy that enables consistent data governance while ensuring data security. The solution also focuses on DataOps—automating data functions that allow data scientists to focus on data models and innovation.

A Yara tractor plows wheat and corn fields

The platform provides holistic digital services and instant agronomic advice to farmers across the globe, ultimately to increase food production on existing farmland.

Together, the digital platform aims to cover 7 percent of all arable land worldwide.

“Agriculture is one of the last industries that has focused on systematic process optimization,” Stormorken said. “That means farms are largely fragmented and disconnected from one another. Reaching 620 million farm families one-by-one around the world is a challenge.”

The farmers adopting the platform are seeing immediate benefit.

“What you can expect as a farmer is more accurate predictions,” Stormorken said. “The recommendations a big field in Australia gets, for example, are based on data from the entire region. For farmers, accurate weather forecasting is crucial.”

Pouring the perfect cup of coffee from Hacienda Casablanca farms in Santander, Colombia

Better predictions mean healthier crops and fewer low-yield years.

The platform is only the beginning.

Transparency in trade through blockchain technologies will also empower farmers. That’s important for Liliana Caballero, a second-generation farmer who runs a coffee farm in Colombia.

“Our customers need to know who the farmer is, who the coffee grower behind that cup of coffee is,” Casablanca said. “That’s something that strongly attaches the consumer to the product.”

She also wants her consumers to see the science behind the scenes, including the differentiated processes and stages of the fermentation processes.

“It would be wonderful if our customers could learn all of that,” she said.

A farmer carries a handheld digital tool that measures chlorophyll content in crops

Yara is well on its journey to being a cognitive enterprise, IBM’s vision for the next-generation business model. By leveraging its data, the company is reinventing itself around the world.

“This partnership will transform agriculture and have a massive impact for the globe,” Rylander said. “Protect the planet and feed people. That’s what we aim to do.”

Watch the video
Was this article helpful?

More from Cloud

Announcing Dizzion Desktop as a Service for IBM Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)

2 min read - For more than four years, Dizzion and IBM Cloud® have strategically partnered to deliver incredible digital workspace experiences to our clients. We are excited to announce that Dizzion has expanded their Desktop as a Service (DaaS) offering to now support IBM Cloud Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). Powered by Frame, Dizzion’s cloud-native DaaS platform, clients can now deploy their Windows and Linux® virtual desktops and applications on IBM Cloud VPC and enjoy fast, dynamic, infrastructure provisioning and a true consumption-based model.…

Microcontrollers vs. microprocessors: What’s the difference?

6 min read - Microcontroller units (MCUs) and microprocessor units (MPUs) are two kinds of integrated circuits that, while similar in certain ways, are very different in many others. Replacing antiquated multi-component central processing units (CPUs) with separate logic units, these single-chip processors are both extremely valuable in the continued development of computing technology. However, microcontrollers and microprocessors differ significantly in component structure, chip architecture, performance capabilities and application. The key difference between these two units is that microcontrollers combine all the necessary elements…

Seven top central processing unit (CPU) use cases

7 min read - The central processing unit (CPU) is the computer’s brain, assigning and processing tasks and managing essential operational functions. Computers have been so seamlessly integrated with modern life that sometimes we’re not even aware of how many CPUs are in use around the world. It’s a staggering amount—so many CPUs that a conclusive figure can only be approximated. How many CPUs are now in use? It’s been estimated that there may be as many as 200 billion CPU cores (or more)…

IBM Newsletters

Get our newsletters and topic updates that deliver the latest thought leadership and insights on emerging trends.
Subscribe now More newsletters