Agricultural Tech Links iPads, Tractors

Big data for Illinois farmers? 640 Labs, a Chicago startup, is bringing mobile data collection and analysis to the ag world. Its widget plugs into tractors to automatically collect and report data ranging from field productivity to a tractor’s levels of fuel, oil and coolant. 

As Amina Elahi reported in the Chicago Tribune’s Blue Sky Innovation, 640 Labs ran a private beta program last year with corn, soybean and wheat farmers in Illinois and Indiana, and is expanding its reach this spring. The company hopes to expand its service coverage from 50,000 to 1 million acres by the end of the year. 

640 Labs is not alone in the quest to bring data-driven insights into the fields. Many believe that “precision agriculture” can help feed the world’s growing population by helping farmers make the best possible decisions about when to plant and harvest. These techniques will also help farmers work efficiently and profitably. A team of IBM researchers are working on how such “‘precision agriculture’ techniques and technologies can maximize food production, minimize environmental impact and reduce cost.” 

Ag tech is a reminder of how tech innovation can bring great gains to Illinois across the board. Think of the progress that research and development funding could provide in this area. That research could benefit the farmers across our state. 640 Labs is currently seeking venture capital, and such investment is another area where policy action could promote growth in the ag tech field. 

Smart tech policies affect our rural population as well as our urban and suburban populations. Illinois’ people and our economy rely on our farms. Let’s make sure that our farmers have the best and most up-to-date tools possible. 

640 Labs harvests data on farming straight from tractors
640 Labs: Features
IBM Research: Precision Agriculture

Tags: adoption, Agriculture, farmers, technology

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