A Different Kind of "Services Oriented" Agriculture – Part 2

“An app for this, an app for that” is fine, so long as these apps can share, or at least access common services. It’s not much different from my smart phone where I have lots of apps that value add pictures, notes, recordings, GPS tagged items, etc. can ultimately be shared and discover these things via Facebook, Twitter, email, text or even my favorite “farming app.”  I want an app to find my fields, my yields, my imagery, my equipment, and my staff.  I want to put things “in the cloud” once and share them many times, with many people as I choose, and across many apps.  For you Apple users of iPhones, iPads, etc. you can think of the iCloud…your music, photos, videos, books, etc. follow you anywhere in the world, are updated in near real time, are backed up, and you don’t have to sync anything…it just works with an internet connection.  This is where services oriented agriculture is headed. So how does this relate to interconnectivity and modern agriculture?  Only in that it is simply the way we will do business in the future…and many of you are already doing it both physically through contracted services and digitally through information services (I can name apps off the top of my head for weather, markets, field boundaries, soil sampling, seed selection, pest management, etc).  This new kind of SOA, or services oriented agriculture will redefine workflows across agriculture and there are a handful of forward leaning firms working to build the platforms for agriculture which can leverage these services.  This will save you time, money, and enable better decision making.

Interconnectivity is what services oriented agriculture is all about and without interconnectivity, services oriented agriculture does not work.  It is no different than choosing power, water, telephone, internet, television, garbage, mail, lawn services for your home.  On the farm you will make some calls (via phone or web) and choose services for yield data management and storage, imagery, weather, markets, crop scouting, soil sampling, pest management, agronomic services and more.  In this model when you don’t like a service, you don’t replace a large software system you simply use a new service.  When you don’t like the song on the radio, you simply change the station or better yet pull up your favorite song on your phone without skipping a beat.  Apps and services that do not provide value will “fail fast” and those that do will become a part of your workflows.

Like subscribing to cable or the newspaper, the services will just “happen” and you will have choices about how you see this information, interact with the data, share results and build collaborative teams around the process.  The same data and applications will be available on your desktop, tablet, and/or phone and will be easily sharable with staff and collaborative teams. As described in Part 1, these new “linked, repeatable business tasks, or services” in Services Oriented Agriculture will leverage economics through economies of scale and scope as well as mitigating the opportunity cost of your time so you can farm, play golf, or spend time with family.  On your phone, tablet, or laptop you will be able to prepare a spraying prescription for the bean field and send it to a service provider, evaluate the yield map of your wheat field with your agronomist over video chat, pull up the video cam in the feed barn, check weather, place marketing orders, show you your equipment and their fuel status, and even turn up the air conditioning in the office...all while sitting at the little league game.

We’re almost there, it’s only the beginning, and you are going to like it.