Land O'Lakes taps the Google Cloud to help farmers till the Earth

Using the Google Cloud Platform, the agricultural business wants to help farmers share and manage data they previously had to share with USB sticks.

Data aggregation technology is already helping to transform the agriculture industry, enabling farmers to measure their crop yields, analyze field samples and plan for smarter, more efficient growing seasons. However, farmers, retailers and others in the industry have been limited in their abilities to share information.

Land O'Lakes, under its WinField brand, is attempting to solve that problem with a new application it's launching on the Google Cloud Platform called Data Silo.

The cloud-based application has four functions: It lets users store information, share information, and search based on factors such as growing season or location. It also allows farmers to control who has access to their information and what systems it's fed into -- a key factor for farmers interested in keeping certain information out of the hands of their competitors.

Data Silo allows farmers to connect their data to the rest of the agricultural industry's digital ecosystem. Prior to tools like Data Silo, farmers had to literally move around their data on USB drives. This app, however, connects farmers other major agribusinesses like John Deere and Monsanto. In return for sharing their data, farmers receive guidance on agronomic best practices, such as which crop to grow in a particular field.

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Land O'Lakes worked with Cloud Technology Partners to develop Data Silo from the ground up. They eventually migrated the application to Google Compute Engine to run its web-based

PHP application, power the mobile and web-based interfaces and integrate with existing monitoring and security systems. Google Maps API enables Data Silo users to survey geospatial data overlaid with useful labels, and maps are updated in real time.

Google also sees potential for Data Silo to evolve into a data silo for a variety of agricultural

applications -- for instance, using Google Cloud Bigtable could help the industry perform analytics that further improve crop yields.

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