Big data has just got more interesting for farmers. In the US, Kansas-based start-up Farmobile has started paying farmers for the data collected on their farms. In a promotion to show farmers how this new revenue stream works, Farmobile paid $2 per certified acre for completed Electronic Field Records (EFRs) from farmers across Minnesota, where the Data Store launched last April.

Farm Industry News reported that Farmobile evenly splits revenues from vetted buyers with farmers, who signed up with the company.

Bob and his sons grow corn, soybeans and peas and finish 10,000 pigs a year. They’ve branched into solar farming – “And now we’re farming data,” he said.

The report said that Bob was skeptical he’d ever be paid for his data, until he received his first cheque for $4,949.

The move refocused the debate of who owns the increasing amounts of data that is being generated by the increasing number of sensors on farm, which is bound to be a major topic at the AgTech summit.

In the report, Farmobile CEO Jason Tatge urged farmers to protect their recipe for achieving yields by “putting a fence around their data”, rather than simply giving it away.

Farmobile is just one of the exciting new start-up companies backed by Dutch venture firm Anterra Capital, which will also have speakers at the AgTech Summit on 29 March.

The international food and agriculture growth capital firm has raised over €100 million, making it the largest venture capital fund of its kind in Europe. “The global food system needs innovative solutions, but building companies in the complex and conservative food sector can be challenging,” said Adam Anders, Anterra managing partner.

“We founded Anterra because we know entrepreneurs in this sector lack an investment partner with the specialist expertise, international network access and patient capital required to succeed over the long term,” he explained.

Anterra’s investors are Rabobank, a leading global food and agribusiness bank, and Eight Roads, the proprietary investment arm of Fidelity International Limited. At the conference Anterra will highlight the big macro trends that they see as both opportunities and threats to the food production industry. Technology is set to play a transformative role

As well as Farmobile – which focuses on data collection tools that standardise agronomic and machine data, regardless of the manufacturer – the fund has invested in innovative chemical companies, along with companies focused on genome engineering and helps plant breeders develop better crops, faster, and cheaper.

Other companies are developing innovative materials that extend the shelf life of fresh fruit and vegetables, leading to reduced wastage and higher-quality produce and low-cost water desalination.

Anterra’s spokesperson said they focus on companies that are

  • • Simple, strong and have differentiated value proposition.
  • • Clear route to market and potential to scale rapidly.
  • • Able to create substantial value with limited capital.
  • • And give an immediate opportunity for Anterra Capital to add value.