The Climate Corporation awarded for outstanding AI/ML: We’re all winners with sustainable agriculture

Posted June 28, 2021 by Cheryl Bradstreet

The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Bayer, aims to help all the world’s farmers sustainably increase their productivity with digital tools. The Climate FieldView™ platform provides farmers with a comprehensive, connected suite of digital tools aimed at mitigating risk and optimizing farm productivity.

As Vertica’s customer references manager, I gather stories around what our users are doing in various industries with the Vertica platform. The Climate Corporation is certainly unique, and I was particularly happy to hear that they had won’s award for “Outstanding AI/ML Industry Project.” So I wanted to share a few details about their data analytics implementation, as well as the reasons they received top honors in this category.

Going beneath the surface

Bringing together seamless field data collection, advanced agronomic modeling, and local weather monitoring into simple mobile and web software solutions, The Climate FieldView platform gives farmers a deeper understanding of their fields so they can make more informed operating decisions to optimize yields, maximize efficiency, and reduce risk. The Climate FieldView platform is available for farmers to use in data management and operation visualization in over a dozen countries across Europe, including the United Kingdom.

Why does this matter?

In a few short decades, the world’s population is on pace to grow fifty percent. For farmers, that rapid growth translates to an urgent need to find more efficient, sustainable ways to grow a lot more food. Now more than ever, farmers need access to tools that support the decisions they make every day to maximize their return on every acre.

It is clear to The Climate Corporation that the next breakthrough will not be through genetics or equipment, but through data analytics. According to Dan McCaffrey, VP of Data and Analytics at The Climate Corporation: “Data drives our ability to achieve value for our farmers. Research shows that outside of climate and weather, two-thirds of variables in the food growing cycle are controllable factors, such as plant population, soil preparation, or previous crops. When we take this data and combine it with satellite imagery and weather data, we can then apply data analytics and bring it to life through visualization, so farmers can optimize resources and maximize yields.”

New tools for smart agriculture

With an Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud environment already in place, the team looked for the best data analytics solution to integrate with their existing toolset. The Climate Corporation uses Looker as a data visualization solution, Apache Spark to pre-process data, and Pentaho for ODBC connectivity for ETL (Extract, Transform, and Load) processes to prepare data for analysis. Vertica serves as the connective tissue that integrates all these and existing tools, including Python and Jupyter Notebooks, as they expand their data analytics capabilities into machine learning and geospatial data analysis.

McCaffrey’s team used the Amazon Machine Image (AMI) for Vertica to create a cluster on AWS, ready for development. Farmers collect input data without the hassle of manual data entry.

A perfect Internet of Things (IoT) example

If you’re looking for a great application of IoT technology, you can’t beat The Climate Corporation’s example. An in-cab hardware device plugs directly into farming equipment—such as tractors, combines, liquid applicators, and planters—and captures machine and field data, allowing farmers to collect data and store it as they pass through their fields. In The Climate Corporation’s analytics ecosystem, this data is then combined with weather, geospatial, and satellite data to analyse the optimal yield scenarios for that particular farm or field.

A SaaS application makes reports back to the farming clients for easy consumption. The Climate Corporation also uses reports to brief leadership teams, provide insight to product teams for future product innovation, and generally optimize across the entire business with metrics.

A wide range of data sources – third-party intelligence, application click stream, and the field’s own data – are processed and integrated in Vertica, resulting in a rich data set that provides a 360 view of the grower and their operation. This scalable machine learning and data visualization ecosystem is critical in building a data-driven platform, and is used to ensure the best product is being delivered to create the most value for the farmer.

A note on the award

Tom Allen, Delta Site Editor for Computing & Delta, describes the reasons for The Climate Corporation’s win in the “Outstanding AI/ML Industry Project Award” category:

“There are thousands of uses for AI & ML. This award is for a project that accomplished something radically different, way beyond what a manual approach could do…Food security and climate change have become crucial issues. This project gives farmers access to the tools they need to sustainably maximize their output. Agriculture is a tough industry. So the work done to simplify data capture and then transform that data for use is definitely the way forward.”

Nicely said! For more information on how The Climate Corporation is using advanced analytics to help farmers optimize resources and maximize yield, view the webcast or listen to the podcast. You’ll be inspired.