Server farms just took on a whole new meaning. As organizations in many different sectors increase their use of big data analytics and next generation computing solutions, they are investing in colocation data centers to store and share information. The agricultural industry is not one of the first that comes to mind when discussing big data and data centers, but there are many ways that big data can benefit research and development methods. Organizations in the sector, especially small farmers, operate on thin profit margins that are susceptible to a variety of complicating factors, from social and cultural developments to uncontrollable weather patterns.
Using data can help farmers quantify many of their processes. To cite one example, hard numbers can help farmers better monitor cattle herd health and feeding behavior, according to Farm Futures. Data can also be leveraged into predictive strategies that can help farmers plan crop rotation strategies and better contend with environmental developments, especially as climate change alters the landscape of many areas and forces farmers to alter traditional methods.
Another advantage that could drive data research efforts is the need for smart, automated solutions. For example, PureSense is expanding their data center presence to offer “irrigation intelligence” to farmers, according to Data Center Knowledge editor Jason Verge. Their services consist of monitoring systems that remotely gather data from a variety of streams, including soil moisture and irrigation systems’ flows, that can be used to improve the process of scheduling and automating irrigation. The solutions provider is currently expanding their data center in order to deal with mounting demand. Once completed, their facility will be able to hold 14 terabytes of data and more than 4 billion data records, according to company officials.
“We decided a year ago that given our growth, we needed to up-grade our data center to assure uninterrupted services in hosting our online data management and software services for our customers,” said PureSense CEO David Termondt. “Based on the problems our competitors’ customers have experienced in having reliable access to their information, we believe that this is a substantial differentiator for us in the market.”
Farming data comes to UK data centers
As part of a plan to improve the country’s agricultural industry, the U.K. government recently announced plans to invest Â£10 million ($15.3 million) in an informatics center for research and development, reported Information Age editor Pete Swabey. The Centre for Agricultural Informatics and Metrics and Success will use data centers to store and share valuable information about farm performance, as well as data concerning consumer and demographic trends. The effort of government and industry officials to up their data center finance efforts in the endeavor to generate more productivity and economic development in the farming industry speaks to a growing trend of merging agriculture and information technology. As more large industries place a higher priority on big data-derived decision making, it will likely spur further data center development, especially in rural areas.