Ag industry comes together to create common set of data standards and protocols

 AgGateway and the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) are co-sponsoring the launch of a cross-industry collaboration project that will help growers better manage water and energy use by integrating weather, soil moisture, soil type, crop and other relevant data coming from a wide range of hardware and software programs. The Precision Agriculture Irrigation Leadership (PAIL) Project will improve agriculture irrigation by developing a common set of data standards and formats to convert data for use in irrigation data analysis and prescription programs.

“Ultimately, the objective of this project is have a common set of data standards and protocols used across the agriculture industry,” said Terry Schlitz, PAIL Project chairperson and AgSense president. “With those in place, industry can deliver much more efficient, easy-to-use solutions for producers, which in turn will help them use available water and energy more effectively.” Producers and manufacturers currently report that it is difficult and time-consuming to make decisions on how much water to apply when and where. That’s because weather, soil moisture and other relevant data are stored in a variety of Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) formats and data sources.

Seventeen companies have already committed to participate, including Ag Connections, Agrian, AgSense, Campbell Scientific, CropMetrics, Crop IMS, Decagon Devices, Irrometer, Irrinet, John Deere, J.R. Simplot, MapShots, Monsanto, OnFarm Systems, Ranch Systems, Wysocki Produce Farms, Inc., and ZedX.

“Growers have many more options now to irrigate their fields more effectively,” said Andres Ferreyra, AgGateway Precision Agriculture Council chair, and Ag Connections research and development coordinator. “For example, they can invest in soil maps, install different types of pumps or flow meters, use soil moisture sensors, and put variable rate irrigation systems on their center pivots. There are a few software applications that tie them together. However, these tools don’t actually talk to each other effectively or efficiently.”

“NEEA works to accelerate energy savings in the Northwest,” said Geoff Wickes, senior product manager at NEEA. “For agricultural irrigation, we have an energy efficiency savings goal of 20 percent by 2020 through lower energy use and reduced operating costs improving profit-per-acre for the region’s growers. This collaboration will help meet that goal.”

The first working session of the group took place last month; the goal is to have a draft set of data standards by AgGateway’s Annual Meeting in November, and to be able to run tests during spring plantings in 2014.

Companies interested in more information about the PAIL Project should contact Dan Berne, NEEA’s PAIL Project Manager, at, or Marilyn Hunter, AgGateway’s Enabling Services Director at