Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Farming Revolution to Place Data Center Stage, Says Data Monger, Bayer

Although the Bayer-Monsanto marriage has not yet been consummated, it looks like it will go through.
(famous last words of the old-timey "risk-arbitrageurs")

So, although Bayer has a lot of data generating and data manipulating stuff going on right now, with the merger they also get their hands on Monsanto's 2013/14 acquiree The Climate Corporation, see links after the Bayer story.
From Agrimoney:

Farming revolution to place data centre stage, says Bayer

Radical change in arable farming means that by 2025 growers are likely to be using digital advice tools, companies will sell complete crop packages, and data will be driving the sector, Bayer said.
But this will mean embracing totally different technology than that in use today, and big business will need to partner with people to make it happen.
Speaking at Rabobank's F&A Next event at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, Bayer's global head of digital farming Tobias Menne said that the agrichemicals giant, which is acquiring Monsanto, was always looking for new sources of data, as well as working with start-ups generating such statistics.
The data would be a critical part of developing a "command centre", he said.
'Not the answer'
This strategy was part of working towards a more sophisticated approach to crop production.
"Pouring crop protection products on is not the answer - anyone pushing volume is not the answer, we need something better," Mr Menne said
He said Brazilian farmers were already using satellite technology to help identify and treat resistant weeds, and at the other end of the scale, a Bayer app for identifying pests and diseases, mainly in developing countries, had become very popular even in countries such as France.
"By 2025 growers will be using a digital advice tool. Selling advice at €5-10 a hectare is not going to be the next big thing."
He believes companies will be able to offer products which "take the complexity out".
This would mean offering growers a package of weed and pest-free crops for a lump sum per hectare, he said.
'A lot of buzzwords'
Separately, Bruno Melcher, a largest-scale Brazilian farmer, told the event that while producers were continually being offered tools billed as an aid to performance, these products were often not useful...

On The Climate Corp:
October 2013
Ha! Monsanto Buys Crop Insurer/Data Co. for $930 Mil. (MON)
Oh this takes ya back. We first posted on The Climate Corporation under its original name, WeatherBill and then in 2011's "Google Ventures' next big bet: Weather insurance (GOOG)" noted:
"We had a few mentions of  WeatherBill early in this blog's life but I couldn't figure out how to make money off their output, it looks like a product made for selling, not for buying. Links below."
I purloined the "product made for selling, not for buying" bit from an insurance man who evaluated every insurance product on the basis of whether he would use it to insure his own business or if he would underwrite it for his agents to sell. A very handy mental map....

The funniest thing about the acquisition and announcement is that while the purchase is being couched in Big Data terms it is the weather insurance where the company makes its money. Ha!

Coming into the close the biotech giant and evil agribusiness overlord is trading down $1.27 at $103.78.

From Bloomberg:
Monsanto's Billion-Dollar Bet Brings Big Data to the Farm...
...See also:
Google Ventures' next big bet: Weather insurance (GOOG)
Weather Investing (Hedging, Insuring)
"Geek Farmers Gamble on Global Warming" (GOOG)
Knowledge@Wharton: Weather Inc.

TechCrunch also took note of the acquisition, emphasizing "Big Data":
Monsanto Buys Weather Big Data Company Climate Corporation For Around $1.1B

Finally, insurance is all about asymmetric information. If the insurer knows the probabilities for losses and that the extent of losses will be less than their customer's estimations, the insurer can be very, very profitable. 
June 2014 
Digital Disruption on the Farm or Where's the Risk In Giving All Your Data to Monsanto?
June 2016 
McKinsey: Monetizing Freely Available Data Worth $3.2-$5.4Trillion per Year

 As usual, apologies to the Grant Wood Estate and the Art Institute of Chicago for the image.