Building farm data trust

At AgTech Finder we ask vendors to provide their data policies so that farmers can make informed choices about agtech and be comfortable about the way their data is being collected and managed. Good data policies build trust, confidence and provide transparency about how farm data is being used.

Farmers’ data concerns

A study examining farmers attitudes and concerns surrounding collection of data, found they lack trust in the way that their farm data is being collected and managed. Farmers' concerns arise from data licences, lack of privacy, security, and broader sharing of data benefits. Overall, more than half of the farmers in the study had very little trust in service and technology providers to maintain the privacy of their data.

The study found five key areas of concern to farmers:

  • a lack of transparency about the terms of use in data licences

  • ownership of data and data sharing

  • data privacy

  • bargaining power inequality

  • lack of benefit-sharing between farmers (data contributors) and third-party advisers/agribusiness (data aggregators)

This is a wakeup call for agtech providers. There is a need for providers, and any third-parties they use, to build in robust and transparent data governance, security and privacy policies that build trust and therefore increase the willingness to share data.

These policies also need to be easily explainable, with the study showing that more knowledge of terms and conditions led to higher levels of willingness to share data.

Farm Data Code of Practice for Australia

The Australian National Farmers Federation Farm Data Code was released in February 2020, with the aim of ensuring farmers have confidence in how their data is collected, used and shared. Additionally, the Code is intended to inform the policies of service providers who manage data on behalf of farmers and be a means by which farmers can evaluate the policies of providers.

The Code asks providers to commit to a set of Principles, to ensure the integrity and security of the data:

  • Transparent, clear and honest collection, use, and sharing of farm data

  • Fair and equitable use of farm data

  • Ability to control and access farm data

  • Farm data documentation and record keeping systems in place

  • Portability of Farm Data, so farmers can retrieve or request data deletion

  • Keeping farm data secure

  • Compliance with national and international data laws

While the Code is voluntary, providers of agtech that deal with data can give farming customers peace of mind that they are committed to adhering to best practice data management.  

If agtech, smart farms and digital agriculture are going to transform agriculture, as is often promised, then suppliers of agtech need to up the ante on trust around data access and be cognisant of user needs.

Data and AgTech Finder

Data policies appear on both Vendor and Solution listings on AgTech Finder and can either be a summary or link to more detail on your website. We ask agtech vendors to provide policies for data ownership, privacy and security, as outlined below.

Data ownership policy

  • Your policy outlining legal rights and control over data elements, defining data asset ownership and the acquisition, use and distribution.

  • Consider the type of data and does it contain private information (name, address, opinions) and/or does it contain commercial in confidence information (financial or sensitive business data).

  • Who can use the data and under what licensing? Consider the purpose of use such as is it available for research use, public use, or restricted use.

  • Who is the data custodian – who takes care of the metadata and the upkeep of the data?

Data privacy and security policy

  • Where data is stored, and how it is accessed and shared?

  • Your data privacy policy should outline the handling, processing, storage and usage of data provided to you.

  • Measures in place to protect data from any unauthorised third-party access, malicious attacks and exploitation of data.

To add or update data policy information on your listings please email us at Agtech Finder.