“This data is valuable to companies,” says Adam Gittins, general manager, HTS Ag. “You want to know what kind of relationship you’re entering with these services.”

He cautions growers to read privacy statements and terms of use for any service, so you at least know what’s going on. Many companies offering services are aggregating data, without personal information, to enhance decision-making for the future. It means using the raw data you collect to create models and analyses, but your original data is still intact on the service and waiting for you to use.

The aggregated, or anonymized, data has value to not only the company, but also farmer-customers using the service. “There’s a lot of value, and farmers shouldn’t just give it away,” he says.

Gittins’ company works closely with Ag Leader, whose new AgFiniti services allow you to store information in a data cloud and share as needed. Ag Leader has said it will not touch a farmer’s data, and that’s part of its privacy policy.

Luke James, Ag Leader software manager, notes that the company “respects and values the growers being independent and allowing them to do whatever they want with their information. We encourage growers to read the terms of service and what the data will be used for when they sign up.”

In essence, some services act as data stores that allow you to move information from field to cloud for easier access for yourself or others. Raven Slingshot has been offering this kind of service for four years, and Paul Welbig, general manager of the company’s Austin Technology Center, says they have not gotten into the business of aggregating information. However, users of Slingshot can pass their information on to others that do. “We think there’s tremendous value to [aggregating information] for the future, but we have to log more data and more relevant data; then start doing some intelligence around that.” In essence, the industry is in its infancy, and the true value of that information is yet to be determined.

The value proposition in sharing data may in fact be easy access to more useful information for your farm simply by taking part in the services.

Trimble’s Connected Farm approach to data management was a leader in cloud data use as well, and last fall creation of the new dashboard for displaying that information helped farmers see more benefits of cloud access to information. “Light bulbs went on with growers,” says Mike Martinez, Trimble marketing director.

“The system shows what work activity has been completed in the field. And when the job is completed, it is transmitted to the Connected Farm system. Farmers can also do the logistics of deciding what equipment should be deployed across the farm to finish faster, too.”

Martinez notes that Trimble is also not aggregating information on its own, but knows that farmers pass along data files to other services (using the industry-standard “shape” file) where that work can be done. “We’re providing those trusted advisers the tools they need to provide better service to their clients.”