Harness power of open data to boost yields and quality, Truss urges

Defra secretary Elizabeth Truss has urged farmers and the food industry to seize the opportunities offered by open data to boost productivity.

Image: Policy Exchange
Image: Policy Exchange

Speaking at an Open Data Institute (ODI) Futures event on agriculture she said: "From tractors that use GPS to pinpoint crops, to laptops that gather readings from soil moisture sensors across dozens of fields, our world-leading farmers are working better and smarter than ever before.

"Data is one of our most valuable resources and Defra is leading the way in the open data revolution, opening up our vast data vaults and unleashing 8,000 datasets by next summer – 1,000 of which will be on farming. I want our hard-working farmers to seize the opportunity of open data and drive it forwards."

Already in September the Environment Agency published 3D LIDAR (Light Detection & Ranging) maps for most of England, allowing growers to better understand variations in slope and aspect of their land.

ODI technical director Jeni Tennison said: "How we can use data to improve agriculture and nutrition is one of our main areas of focus. With a rapidly growing global population, it is essential that farmers, suppliers and consumers have the data they need to make informed choices.

"We hope this inspires more data publication, further collaboration across the sector and the creation of more products and services that can bring this data to those who need it."

The event brought together global food producers and manufacturers, academics and entrepreneurs with local and central Government to discuss how open data will help farmers maximise crop yields, improve the quality of produce and feed growing communities.

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