Bringing the cloud to the farm

Silicon Valley cloud computing startups are taking on a whole new enterprise: agriculture. The upside of new tech? A generations-old grail: efficiency.

The beautiful vistas of the heartland are hardly short on clouds, but a new type may fundamentally change the way farmers work.

Cloud computing and Internet services for agriculture are growing in popularity, allowing farmers to keep better track of their assets -- from crops to livestock to expenses.

Despite the bucolic mental image of hard labor by hand, farmers tend to be on the cutting edge of technology. (Their iPhones are 30-ft.-long, $60,000 hay balers.) Cloud startups have largely served their own industry -- technology -- first, but increasingly they are specializing and expanding into industry verticals. Agriculture, of course, is a big one, alongside healthcare, financial services, energy and defense.

The New York Times' Randall Stross profiles a few of these companies, which include Ann Arbor, Mich.-based FarmLogs, which tracks and centralizes crop activity; Croatia's Farmeron, which brings analytics to livestock management; and Mountain View, Calif.-based Solum, which focuses on soil analysis.

"In essence," Stross writes, "Solum and other start-ups are building the technology to allow farmers to benefit from data science."

Can Silicon Valley bring a little more silicon to America's valleys? Looks like it.

Photo: Krone

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