As spring in the Northern Hemisphere arrives, farmers around the world are making decisions about what crops to plant and how to manage them. In the United States, farmers typically now have troves of data to help make these decisions—on how crops or livestock have performed in prior years, what nutrients their soils lack, and even how practices they haven’t yet tried have fared with their neighbors.
They will also have access to inexpensive loans and insurance, because the banks and insurers providing these services have the data needed to design affordable products. These data have a clear upside. They make farms more productive and help to grow the economic sectors that produce food. In a world stressed by climate change and natural resource constraints, these sectors have to become ever more lean and efficient, and still remain bountiful. In the U.S., the past five years have seen a series of bumper harvests for both corn and soybean.
Author: David Lobell