NDSU researchers seek input on precision agriculture data use

Farmers and ranchers can provide input via a survey at

JSSP Ag News

North Dakota State University researchers in the department of agribusiness and applied economics are seeking input from farmers and ranchers about use of data generated from precision agriculture activities.

“Generating information to improve the use of farm resources and best meet operational objectives is at the center of precision agriculture,” said Cheryl Wachenheim, NDSU Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics professor. “For example, soil sampling and yield monitor data can be used to prescribe zone application of fertilizers and seeding rates. We have learned a lot about how farmers and ranchers are using the tools of precision agriculture and are now seeking their feedback about control of the data they generate.”

The environment of rich and easily accessible and manageable data from precision agricultural technologies is evolving and new to an industry most familiar with an environment of tangible assets for which property rights are generally explicit, Wachenheim said. Farmers and ranchers are, for example, able to control access and prevent others from using their land, machinery and equipment, and other tangible assets.

The property rights of data are less clear, and there is no regulatory framework that clearly defines rights to production and farm data, Wachenheim said. As a result, there are a myriad of uncertainties and concerns regarding the collection, control, sharing and use of the data generated by farm operations.

The data is of value to farmers and ranchers and those who help them make production decisions, Wachenheim said. However, the data also is of value to a range of other entities including other farms, cooperatives, and those supporting, servicing and investing in agriculture. This potential access by others can be an important consideration for farmers. Once data from precision agricultural operations is released to a company, in the absence of a confidentiality agreement or privacy document, it is available for others to view and use.


“There has been little research conducted on issues concerning precision farming data in terms of farmer’s preferences about data control,” Wachenheim said. “The goal of this research is to understand the viewpoints of those involved in collecting and using the data.”

The researchers invite farmers and ranchers and those who assist them in using data from precision agriculture for decision-making to provide their input via a survey at .

For questions about the research survey, contact Wachenheim at 701-231-7452 or

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