A European ag equipment association has called for international regulation and standards for big data in the ag sector to boost the productivity, sustainability and profitability of farms.
CEMA, the association representing the European agricultural machinery industry, was responding to the European Commission's public consultation on the regulatory environment for online platforms, online intermediaries, data and cloud computing and the collaborative economy.
CEMA said online platforms and cloud computing services should be regulated by sector-specific standards set at international level by the industry.
“We strongly encourage the European Commission to look at the already ongoing activities related to aggregation of data, encryption and communication”, it said in its submission.
The Association said while online platforms were comparatively new in the agricultural sector, they would play an increasing role in the future.
There was a trend towards higher precision and smart machines CEMA said.
“Precision farming is about producing more with less by managing variations in the field in hitherto unknown accuracy. Online platforms in agriculture are directly linked to this trend by enabling further, data-driven improvements of precision farming applications.”
The move to higher precision and smart machines includes using tools to “manage variations in the field in hitherto unknown accuracy. Online platforms in agriculture are directly linked to this trend by enabling further, data-driven improvements of precision farming applications.”
It also recommended the cloud computing services provide standards based on portability and interoperability so farmers could move from one platform to another.
CEMA believe if data remains within the ownership of the farmer it will be relatively easy to switch from one platform to another.
It said that the compatibility between different machines - seeders, fertiliser spreaders or sprayers, for example - also needed to be taken into account to address difficulties.
CEMA also reckoned data location restrictions were disruptive to the free flow of data and had an impact on industry both at a local and global level and restriction must be evaluated and carefully balanced against other interests.
With regards to personal data the Association’s submission said existing data protection legislation means there are sufficient rules already in place to secure this, while non-personal data could be dealt with via contractual arrangements.
The liability regarding advice provided when using data was also addressed with CEMA saying issues were bound to arise - when the resulting harvest does not match the expected quality or quantity, for instance.
It said the operator should “not liable for the advice given” and reckoned existing frameworks addressed potential issues.
Calling for the “enabling framework” to be set at European level in order to unleash the full potential of online platforms in agriculture, CEMA asks for the creation of a Digital Single Market and underlined the importance of improving broadband infrastructure in rural areas.