8 June 2022

Security, trust and transparency for farmers sharing data with researchers

| Anna Maskus
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Farmer using GPS tracking

GPS tracking for farm vehicles like headers and tractors was one of the first technological advances widely adopted by Australian farmers. Photo: Charles Sturt University.

National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) and Food Agility Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) are working together to help protect sensitive data that Australian farmers provide to researchers.

NFF and CRC are developing new data management rules and programs with the aim of improving trust and transparency.

The companies hope their investments will accelerate agricultural innovation and encourage an increase in research contributions and the amount of data Australian farmers supply.

This includes a refresh of the NFF’s Farm Data Code, a new accreditation mechanism to support the Code and wide release of Food Agility’s Data Sharing Agreement Template.

“Innovation is fuelled by data. Farmers get access to new tools and insights that drive productivity and profitability when they do share their data,” NFF CEO Tony Mahar said.

Food Agility CEO Richard Norton said the NFF’s Farm Data Code, created in 2020, would underpin Food Agility’s research in this area.

“We need to see the Code embedded into the fabric of the agricultural innovation system and deliver practical initiatives that give farmers confidence to share data and service providers the tools they need to meet global gold standards,” Mr Norton said.

READ ALSO Technology is king at the 2022 Digital AgriFood Summit

Speaking ahead of the Digital Agrifood Summit in Wagga Wagga on 1 and 2 June, both organisations said data management practices would dictate the success of the farm sector in the digital age.

One of the keynote speakers at the Summit, Food Agility chief scientist Professor David Lamb, highlighted the significance of data and digital technologies in meeting industry growth targets.

“This event effectively teases apart the critical touchpoints of today’s industry – digital tech, data, farming and food production. These are essential to focus on if we’re rushing to build a $100 billion industry by 2030,” Professor Lamb explained.

“That’s an increase of $40 billion from where we are now so we have a long way to go.”

Mr Mahar committed to NFF’s delivery of multiple data regulation tools this year.

These included a refresh of the Farm Data Code and an accompanying data sharing accreditation program to ensure service providers meet the standards set out in the Code.

READ ALSO The life-changing highs and lows of living on a farm

Mr Norton also guaranteed Food Agility’s commitment to the investment – CRC will push for a widespread release of their Data Sharing Agreement Template.

This document incorporates information from global businesses like John Deere and AACo, dictated by best practices in international legal agreements regarding data sharing.

CRC is also working with TerraCipher, who developed the AgriTrakka data sharing platform to allow farmers to customise their data sharing preferences on the platform with a digitised user agreement.

Mr Mahar said farmers have the right to be confident that their sensitive data is being managed appropriately, whether used in a commercial or research context.

“They need to know how their data is being used, who it is being shared with and how it is being protected and they need some control in that process,” he said.

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