From Intuitive to Fact-Based Farming

Data-intensive farming is coming. It will bring changes to both farming practices and the relationships between farmers, suppliers and offtakers. Adopting these new practices can easily add USD 10 billion per year to the value of field crop farming on a global scale. Data-intensive farming replaces intuitive decisions with fact-based decisions, resulting in further increases in scale advantages.

Steve Collender /

Farming practices will be steered more and more by facts, which in turn are generated by an increasing number of sensors. Over time, aggregation of data from many farmers will drive the development of even better agronomic decisions that can be automated and tailored to the variability within the fields. The modern technology offers opportunities for farmers to increase productivity. 

The farmers have to decide how they access the new technology. They can either access on their own to create a competitive edge over their neighbours, which requires a (very) large scale, or via their suppliers who can leverage investments in modern technology across more farmers or in cooperation with others (e.g. via their inputs cooperative). This last option also creates the opportunity for cooperatives to develop new ancillary services based on the aggregated data. 

The largest farmers are best positioned to benefit from adopting the new technology. However, medium and small-sized farmers will also need to scale up by either increasing their own operations or becoming part of a bigger franchise that shares data, technology and expertise. Farmer cooperatives have a special responsibility to ensure that farmers will reap the benefits of aggregating their collected farm data. 

Read the full details in the Rabobank report ‘From Intuitive to Fact-Based Farming: The Impact of Big Data on Farming’.