Data will change agriculture

Published online: Mar 07, 2013
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In the year 2025, data will be the profit center for the farmer.

Rich Kottmeyer, senior executive and global agriculture and food production leader for Accenture, a company focused on technology and consulting, told attendees at Bayer CropScience Ag Issues Forum that data will transform agriculture. The key, he said, is that all the data that can be collected is useless unless it is used to find solutions.

Kottmeyer predicts that in the future, standardized data will allow many companies the opportunity to provide services to farmers. In 2025, he said, "Farmers will be able to calculate ROI on any decision or action they take on their farm - for today, tomorrow, a month, and entire growing season. Optimizing data with science."

In 2025, Kottmeyer predicts, poverty will be receding and the way people see food will be different.

"With one billion new people, the world is moving from food security to food quality," he said. The global consumer is now looking for value-added. Agriculture isn't a commodity, it is value added. People are using more of their paycheck for food. Food prices have increased."

Kottmeyer predicts that fifty percent of food dollars will be spent outside of the home, so food becomes "a service."

In 2025, Kottmeyer explains, "America is no longer number one in terms of GDP. China is first, India will soon be second. The U.S. is 4% of the global population."

In 2025, it is a whole new world with new consumers in India and China. These new, affluent customers want variety, quality and affordability in their food.

"Biotechnology has been accepted," said Kottmeyer, speaking as though he is looking back from 2025. "Even Japan and the EU (European Union) understood that biotechnology was the core of sustainability. Data and insight simplified - conserving soil, energy, water, growing more for less - because of biotechnology."

"Agriculture has moved to value-added. We don't send grain to feed pigs. We send food."

Kottmeyer said it is imperative that the fundamental infrastructure in the United States is repaired and updated. From bridges to waterways, terminals to containers, this is a necessary improvement.

"Meeting the needs of the new middle class resulted in a fundamental change in how we grow food," explained Kottmeyer, speaking from the future. "Today the farmer in Iowa is more likely to know he is selling his/her corn to a specific ethanol plant or processing plant or even to a specific poultry layer operation. He or she will even know the specific time in layers lifetime."

Kottmeyer said the economics of agriculture will change. The farmer will be closer to the beginning and end of food chain and there will be room for a number of smaller farms as there will be consolidation into aggregates.