Liber 118 Press has a particular interest in the intersection of Agriculture and Big Data.

For a half billion small farms worldwide, most are family-run operations that rely on rain-fed agriculture:

  • livelihood for 40% of the world population
  • $15T/year annual GDP globally

It is difficult to find a topic that matters more to the world in general. However, key concerns henge on data-intensive issues that are hampered by legal impasse and corporate conflicts of interest.

Farming based on extensive approaches has pushed beyond human scale. In particular, the Green Revolution of the 1960s had the good intentions of preventing widespread starvation. That proved a near-term success, in isolation. However, taking a broader context (e.g., hedge funds) into account, that accelerated deforestation and gave rise to a current regime of Monsanto-esque approaches for optimized yields.

Current dependencies combine ill-conceived genomics hacks with diminishing returns from critical inputs: freshwater (sustained droughts, collapsing aquifers), nitrogen (petrol-based or wild catch seafood), phosphorus (limited mining), topsoil (2-3% loss annually), etc. These inputs derive from dwindling sources, none of which will sustain for more than a few decades unless the underlying principles of agriculture change. Even so, the effects of data and analytics on agriculture compound the current problems.

We have technologies within reach for a very different kind of revolution in agriculture, this time by actual Greens. We will need that.

Our ongoing research about these issues is articulated in these recommended publications:

Ag+Data Issues
http://radar.oreilly.com/2014/04/agdata.html

Data Guild whitepaper: Ag Systems + Data Outlook
http://goo.gl/OK8RFf

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Meanwhile, here are some suggested links for organizations working on stuff that matters: