Feb. 26, 2015 — A new survey on data security and usage identifies challenges for producers looking to use farm management data without compromising the security of their operation. A simple misunderstanding of user agreement terms can suggest a level of security that producers might not actually have.

Conducted by BR Research, the survey of producer attitudes and opinions about data usage was sponsored by Case IH, the global leader in agricultural equipment. The survey, conducted in January 2015, includes responses from 331 producers with 1,000 acres or more in production. Of those surveyed, 76% said they currently use a data system.

“We felt this survey was important because our dealers tell us there is definitely confusion about data in the marketplace,” said Trevor Mecham, director, Precision Solutions and Telematics for Case IH.

The survey shows 21% of the respondents either believe their supplier owns the data from their system or they don’t know who owns the data. Less than half (45%) of respondents claim to have agreements limiting the amount of data providers can share.

The responses confirm a lack of understanding about user agreement terminology and how those agreements define the rights of each producer. 

For example, when asked to provide definitions for terms such as “personal data,” “machine data” and “agronomic data,” nearly 40% of the respondents said they did not know. Yet these are key terms in most user agreements.

“While these terms are not always defined consistently throughout the industry, at Case IH we believe producers need to have a clear understanding of our intentions,” Mecham said. “The terms of use from Case IH defines ‘agronomic data’ (yield, planting) as separate from ‘machine data’ (engine performance), whereas other manufacturers label both of these categories as ‘machine data,’ adding to confusion.” For example, when it comes to agronomic data, no one at Case IH or the dealership has access to specific details about the customer’s acreage, crops, yields, cropping practices, etc.

The survey also revealed producer concerns about their ability to share data among brands of equipment. While 39% said they could transfer data among brands of equipment, 36% said they didn’t know whether they could, and 25% said they could not transfer the data. This issue represents challenges for diverse operations that want to expand their data management capabilities.

“One of the things we’ve tried to do at Case IH is to clarify and simplify the usage agreement for AFS Connect,” Mecham said. “As a founding member of the Open Ag Data Alliance (OADA), Case IH adheres to the organization’s standards of data privacy and use and interoperability for the entire agriculture industry.”

OADA standards make it easy to analyze and share mixed-fleet data and to keep fleet and maintenance management systems up to date and interconnected as fleets change.

The survey also suggested there is a lack of understanding regarding the impact of not sharing data with their present provider. Nearly half (43%) said they did not know the impact of no longer sharing the data, 9% said they would not be able to use their system if they stopped sharing, and 7% said they didn’t have the option of not sharing data with their system provider.

“At Case IH, we believe in transparency and readily encourage producers to review and ask questions about the user agreement before they sign up with any provider,” Mecham said. “Producers need to understand all aspects, limitations and provisions for data usage and sharing.”