In a Business Wire news release issued Monday, Monsanto’s weather modeling company Climate Corp announced its purchase of data analytics company 640 Labs, a tech start-up company in Chicago. 640 Labs has found a way to capture geo-referenced data from farm vehicles using a drive that plugs into the vehicles’ diagnostics port.
We profiled the company last summer and followed Matthew and Joe Schweigert, Cuba City, Wis.,as they tested out the data drive on their farm. The Schweigerts were using the information to decode all of the information about a vehicle, such as engine temp, RPMs, fuel use, vehicle speed, torque, and even what gear you’re in. It has information about the implements, too, in addition to GPS location.
When I visited 640 Labs, they said that while the drive provides the means of capturing data in the field, the true value that they bring is data quality and analytics. They said the data they collect is much more “granular” than what you typically get from other data providers because they are capturing more data. More data allows them to detect anomalies or outliers in the data that might flag a problem in the field that needs to be investigated. Their data drive collects the data in real time using Bluetooth.
So, the $64,000 question now is what Climate Corp wants to do with its new acquisition. As stated in the Business Wire news release, “At The Climate Corporation, we strongly believe that leveraging on-farm data can help farmers maximize yields and optimize natural resource use,” said David Friedberg, CEO of The Climate Corporation. “Turning that data into valuable tools for farmers requires a combination of top software engineers, statisticians and specialized disciplines, from agronomists to climatologists. The 640 Labs team brings a combination of engineering and agricultural expertise that will complement and enhance the capabilities of our existing team.”
In the coming year, The Climate Corporation expects to announce new products or services to be offered as a result of the 640 Labs acquisition. However, you can see how that kind of ground-truthing ability will improve the accuracy of their predictive modeling, so you can make more informed cropping decisions. And, as more sensors are added to vehicles to measure more things, there will be more ground-based information that Climate Corp can add to their crop modeling capabilities.
The possibilities are endless—soil nutrient levels, available moisture, crop stress, predictive soil hardness (think variable rate tillage), grain quality, tire pressures. For Climate Corp, the sky’s the limit now.
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