Commentary: Growing smarter: The green data revolution
In the 1940s, the first wave of what is now called the Green Revolution brought significant advancements in plant breeding. This era was quickly followed by additional waves of innovation in advanced breeding and biotechnology, which helped reduce risk and increase food production.
There have been many advancements in agriculture since then. Among the most significant is how smartphones and tablets are putting the power of data science into the hands of farmers to help them optimize their harvests while using resources more efficiently. These devices have become such a big part of our daily lives that it's hard to believe they've been around for less than a decade. We're just starting to realize their potential to improve the way food makes it to our dinner tables.
Through The Climate Corporation, a division of Monsanto, we help farmers use data to make more informed decisions about their operations by measuring and delivering information on soil, field and weather conditions. These decisions help farmers to be more productive on each acre of land, using resources more efficiently and getting the most out of every harvest. We believe that through data science and the availability of digital technologies, we're now on the cusp of another key point in agriculture - the "Green Data Revolution" that will usher in the data-driven farm of the future.
Here are two key things you should know about how smart tech and the Green Data Revolution can help bring us the nutritious foods we need and want, all while using the same or fewer farming acres we use today.
- Data helps farmers plan for better harvests. Data can be used to create predictive models that help farmers optimize farming decisions throughout the season. More informed decisions lead to improved farm productivity and better harvests. That increases farmers' abilities to grow enough food to feed a world population that is expected to reach more than 9 billion people by 2050.
- Data enables decisions that are better for the planet. Just like you and I might check the weather on our smartphones, farmers can use web-based technology and apps to help make decisions like when to plant, how much fertilizer to apply and which seeds to use on different parts of a field to get the best level of production. This access to data helps farmers get the most out of every acre, driving better outcomes on the farm and our planet.
The Green Data Revolution represents an important frontier in the advancement of farming and our collective ability to meet the food and nutrition needs of present and future generations.
To find out more about how we're helping farmers use data and other products and services to grow more sustainably, check out the Monsanto 2014 Sustainability Report: From the Inside Out.