To better counsel farmers on how to run their businesses more profitably, agricultural advisory body SEGES wanted to deepen its understanding of farming processes.
With IBM Watson Analytics, SEGES can analyze and explore data on crop and livestock production, environment, climate and finance to identify patterns that had previously gone unnoticed.
Identifiescorrelations and patterns in data that had previously gone unnoticed
Deepensinsight into agricultural trends, providing more relevant, actionable advice for farmers
InspiresSEGES analysts to explore new ideas and areas of research
Business challenge story
Hunger for knowledge
Famous for its beer, bacon and butter, Denmark’s agricultural sector accounts for 3 percent of the national GDP and 12 percent of exports, and employs 8.5 percent of the country’s total labor force. Agriculture is Denmark’s largest industry, but to remain competitive in an increasingly globalized market, Danish farming processes must become more efficient and more profitable.
Peter Enevoldsen, Head of IT at SEGES, begins: “Our primary objective is to safeguard the future of the Danish agricultural and food industry, and give Danish farmers a global competitive advantage. To do this, we provide farmers with the information needed to run their businesses more profitably.”
SEGES collects huge volumes of data from farmers across the country, covering everything from crop and livestock production, environment and climate, to accounting and financial expenditure.
“We were already analyzing this data to help identify best practices, but we knew that we were just scratching the surface,” says Peter Enevoldsen. “We were certain that this data held the keys to fine-tuning farming processes and sharpening the competitiveness of Danish agriculture.”
With different departments handling different data sets, SEGES struggled to gain a unified overview of its data. Peter Enevoldsen comments: “We were unable to provide farmers with ‘360-degree’ advice, as we simply did not understand the relationships between different sets of data from different parts of the organization. We wanted to know how weather conditions might affect the quality of cow’s milk, for example. All of the data was there, but we didn’t have a good way to bring it together.”
Sowing the seeds for success
To gain cognitive insight into farming trends and processes, and improve the accuracy and efficacy of its advice, SEGES teamed up with IBM Business Partner Mjølner Informatics to unlock the true value of its data.
Peter Enevoldsen recalls: “When Mjølner Informatics proposed using IBM Watson Analytics to analyze our data, we were all genuinely excited. Watson Analytics represents a completely new way of working with our data. After uploading a data sample into the cloud, the software doesn’t just help us ask questions and test hypotheses—it automatically searches for correlations and highlights potentially interesting areas of research. It shows us patterns that might have gone unnoticed in the past, and things that we would never have thought to look for.
“For example, when we uploaded datasets from our cattle database into Watson Analytics and integrated it with climate data, the system quickly picked up a pattern: the higher the temperature, the higher the somatic cell count in cow’s milk—meaning a poorer quality of the milk. This insight means that we can better advise dairy farmers on how to optimize milk production and increase profits. Any such insights that we can give dairy farmers are potentially hugely valuable for the national economy as a whole, because butter and cheese are such important export products.”
He continues: “With an easy-to-use, natural language interface, we can ask questions of the system in the same words that we would use if we were asking a colleague—there’s no need to understand SQL queries or do any complex programming.
“We can also quickly create engaging, detailed visualizations with just a few clicks, which helps us to gain deeper insight into our data and—crucially—present the information in a way that is easy for non-statisticians to understand. Farmers today are much more technology-literate than people realize, but it’s still very helpful to be able to present our findings to them in an intuitive way.”
Reaping the rewards
With Watson Analytics, SEGES is able to delve deeper into its data than ever before and the organization is keen to expand its use of the system.
Peter Enevoldsen comments: “Although we have only been using Watson Analytics for a short period of time, we have already gained some astonishing insights. We have been able to find answers to questions that, with our existing analytics tools, we might not even have realized that we should ask!
“This is giving us the opportunity to explore new areas of research. What’s more, being able to produce visualizations so quickly serves as a solid foundation for team discussions of the analyses, enabling us to ensure that the latest knowledge is quickly put into practice on farms.”
He concludes: “Seeing what is possible with IBM Analytics technology and the Mjølner Informatics team has inspired us and given us a whole host of new ideas. We are highly confident that with Watson Analytics, we are on track to uncovering new insights that will help Danish farmers sharpen their competitive edge.”
As Denmark’s leading agricultural advisor, SEGES is committed to driving innovation in and boosting the competitiveness of the Danish farming and food industry. Headquartered in Aarhus, SEGES operates laboratories and research farms across the country, employs around 650 people and reports annual turnover of DKK1 billion (USD149 million).
- Cognos Analytics
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Headquartered in Aarhus, Denmark, Mjølner Informatics is a leading software and design consultancy. Passionate about helping its clients’ businesses grow digitally, Mjølner Informatics specializes in Innovation & Design, IoT & Mobility, and Platforms & Architecture solutions. To learn more about Mjølner Informatics, visit: www.mjolner.com IBM Analytics offers one of the world's deepest and broadest analytics platform, domain and industry solutions that deliver new value to businesses, governments and individuals. For more information about how IBM Analytics helps to transform industries and professions with data, visit ibm.com/analytics. Follow us on Twitter at @IBMAnalytics, on our blog at ibmbigdatahub.com and join the conversation #IBMAnalytics.
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