Who will benefit from big data? Farmers’ perspective on willingness to share farm data

Paper by Airong Zhang et al : “Agricultural industries are facing a dual challenge of increasing production to meet the growing population with a disruptive changing climate and, at the same time, reducing its environmental impacts. Digital agriculture supported by big data technology has been regarded as a solution to address such challenges. However, realising the potential value promised by big data technology depends upon farm-level data generated by digital agriculture being aggregated at scale. Yet, there is limited understanding of farmers’ willingness to contribute agricultural data for analysis and how that willingness could be affected by their perceived beneficiary of the aggregated data.

The present study aimed to investigate farmers’ perspective on who would benefit the most from the aggregated agricultural data, and their willingness to share their input and output farm data with a range of agricultural sector stakeholders (i.e. other farmers, industry and government statistical organisations, technology businesses, and research institutions). To do this, we conducted a computer-assisted telephone interview with 880 Australian farmers from broadacre agricultural sectors. The results show that only 34 % of participants regarded farmers as the primary beneficiary of aggregated agricultural data, followed by agribusiness (35 %) and government (21 %) as the main beneficiary. The participants’ willingness to share data was mostly positive. However, the level of willingness fluctuated depending on who was perceived as the primary beneficiary and with which stakeholder the data would be shared. While participants reported concerns over aggregated farm data being misused and privacy of own farm data, perception of farmers being the primary beneficiary led to the lowest levels of concerns. The findings highlight that, to seize the opportunities of sustainable agriculture through applying big data technologies, significant value propositions for farmers need to be created to provide a reason for farmers to share data, and a higher level of trust between farmers and stakeholders, especially technology and service providers, needs to be established….(More)”.