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Envisioning the data-driven farmers of tomorrow

The world is rapidly changing. As new global challenges such as a growing population and climate change are combined with new green and digital innovations, we can but hazard a guess what the world will look like in 50 years’ time. But who better to ask than our TopDutch experts for a vision of the future? In the second of this series we’re asking Sener Celik, CEO of JoinData, a non-profit cooperative facilitating safe and transparent data distribution in the AgriFood sector. The year 2070 according to Sener Celik? All biology will have become data.

According to Sener Celik, all production in the agri sector will be based on data. ‘A data factory with the farmer at the helm - that's what dairy farms and arable farmers will be in 2070. The data flows on the feeding of livestock - tailored to the animal on the basis of data on genetic composition, hormone balance, blood sugar level and physical health - are the main assets of the agri-entrepreneur.’

Ingredient #1 Real-time data

‘Most food in 2070 will be produced by industrial units made to measure for the consumer. Agri-processes will be simulated and analyzed in real time by means of digital data flows. Based on that data the healthy growth of each crop will be optimized, diseases will be nipped in the bud, and it will be possible to predict the best time to harvest. This digitalization will result in the quality of agricultural production being considerably higher than it is today.’

‘The protein and fat content, and the cell count of the milk per cow are already measured by milking robots. In the future, everything will be tracked by sensors. Cows will eat microsensors in their feed to monitor the entire digestive process, repair damaged cells and help fight diseases. Because the technology is able to penetrate into the cells up to nano-level, animals themselves will form a data factory. All those nanochips will be able to make autonomous decisions inside the cow. The same goes for crops. In 2070, data will be used to monitor and adjust the growth of crops. The entire agricultural production is based on data. However, the skills of the farmer and the horticulturist remain vital to the value of the data and farm management.’

Ingredient #2 On-farm data intelligence

‘While the robot will become an increasingly advanced artefact, the possibilities of the data they generate will become more and more promising. The intelligence of technological development is applied more and more on-farm, at the farmer's own premises. With super-fast network connections and extreme connectivity, the farm is plugged into the cloud, and everything can be shared with tech partners.’

‘As more and more devices plugged into the farm communicate with the consumer's devices, the end-user of food products will be able to make more targeted choices. The consumer - or his smart fridge - will buy and consume on the basis of his own calorific needs, based on quality. The farmer of the future will be in digital contact with the consumer, and the supply chain will become shorter and shorter.’

Ingredient #3 Total transparency

‘That has consequences for the farmer. Whereas these days his main assets are livestock, meadows and fields, in 2070 his business will be guided by the source data. This source data makes the agricultural sector a completely transparent chain. In the time to come, consumers will demand this transparency. The retail sector will also want to have an insight into the farmer's source data. Retailers let their own algorithms loose on the producer's source data.’

‘The source data also determines the value of his products. At the same time, this makes it possible for the farmer to conduct his own marketing. Every consumer can find out which agricultural company his glass of milk or vegetables come from. In 2070, a standard will be developed for the source data, which will make it possible to price all economic activities on a data-driven basis. This also has implications for quality assurance. The milk processor will also demand high quality. The business model of the agri sector of the future is a close fit for this total transparency.

In 2070 a farmer's business will be guided by the source data

Sener Celik, CEO JoinData

Agricultural entrepreneurs will work closely together in the chain to finance the use of technology and to meet the high demands placed on the food supply. Cooperatives will be well prepared for that future. The future is looking rosy for cooperatives in this region, which has traditionally been developed along those lines.’

Sener’s vision for TopDutch

The TopDutch region could become a worldwide quality hallmark in food production. By developing the standard in source data, the Netherlands could find itself at the cutting edge when it comes to setting global food quality requirements. Transparency is an opportunity. With Wageningen University & Research (WUR), the Netherlands is the knowledge center for the AgriFood sector. It is from here that the world is already being fed - and this is where the food of the future is being developed.’

‘The future consumer will decide what he or she eats, using real-time analytics and targeted advice. This calls for transparency. Developing a culture of openness is a great opportunity that waiting to be seized for the Netherlands and the TopDutch region'

Sener Celik is CEO of JoinData. JoinData is a non-profit cooperative that facilitates safe and transparent data distribution in the Food & Agri sector. JoinData brings together agricultural entrepreneurs, data suppliers and application builders for simple, clear and honest data distribution. Before joining JoinData in 2017, Celik was responsible for data and analytics at Rabobank.

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