Saturday, December 14, 2013

Land History and Precision Agriculture

Via Marginal Revolution, here's Blake Hurst in The American (AEI) writing about precision agriculture.  He argues that automated equipment will enable a big jump in the size of farms.  Sounds logical, but...

In FSA I used to be responsible for reconstitutions, the rules on how to make history follow the land as new owners and new operators changed the configuration of farms.  For years I dodged getting into it because it seemed more complex than I wanted to grapple with, but  then I gradually succumbed and found it interesting.

With that background I started to muse about the effect of precision agriculture on changes in farms.  As Hurst describes it, a good part of precision farming is building up a base of detailed data associated with each square meter (or other unit) of land, base extending over several years worth of plantings, fertilizations, and harvestings, data including weather and soil conditions.

So if I farm a section for several years and build up this database, what happens when I die and someone else takes over.  Does the landowner own the data or is it the operator?  (I'm not clear whether the farmer is storing the data in the cloud, or in a device which he owns and controls.) Can there be provisions for transferring the data from one operation to another?

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