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The problem with FarmLogs is the same problem with anyone wanting to provide cloud-based services to agriculture: who owns the data? And specifically, FarmLogs Terms of Service clause 7 "Content" does not leave one feeling warm and fuzzy on this topic.

This has become more of an issue with farmers over the past year, as they realize their data is a commodity just like what they raise--whether crops or livestock. How much of an issue? Two examples.

First, the Iowa Power Farming show was last week. One of the largest ag shows in the nation, and the back of the program had an advertisement from Ag Leader which started with the line: "Settling for a precision farming partner that wants control of your data just doesn't cut it." Additionally, several vendors in the precision ag and sensor/drone areas were stating similar lines. Whether BS or not, they wouldn't be saying it if there wasn't a need for them to.

Second, the January 17, 2015, edition of Iowa Farmer Today also addressed this issue in their editorial page article "Who own precision technology data?".

It's not that I'm against using technology for ag. It's I'm against others using my data about my farming operations AND MY LAND and making money off of it without cutting me in--or selling/providing it (raw or as a "derivative work") to other entities I may not want to have it.

Great point. I'm one of the founders of FarmLogs and I can tell you we started this company to help make farmers (like my family) more successful. We don't have ulterior motives with regard to using farmer data. We help them use it to be more profitable and that is all.

That said, it looks like we aren't doing a good enough job making it obvious in our ToS. That page has not been updated in a very long time. I am going to be sure to update it to more accurately reflect our values.

"...We don't have ulterior motives with regard to using farmer data. We help them use it to be more profitable and that is all."

Until the investors/board say otherwise. :)

Been there. Experienced it. Resigned rather than comply.

Understand FarmLogs is the whipping boy here because you're the thread's subject (and your TOS clause 7 really is scary), but my concerns are also with the others, including for example Deere.

And as your TOS are updated, things might want to consider:

1) Who owns the data--the landowner or the tenant? Which data specifically? Who can order it removed? 2) What happens when a farm changes owners and the new owner wants all data regarding his land removed? 3) What happens when the data is subpeonaed in a clean water lawsuit for agricultural nitrate runoff?

> Been there. Experienced it. Resigned rather than comply.

Not to derail the topic but I'd love to hear that story. Have you published it anywhere?

I second that, I'm intrigued.

Good stance, however, that leaves unaddressed two key prongs of this issue:

1) Is this actually a concern to the people you want to be selling to, as evidenced by talking to a number of them? Don't bother with surveys, just straight-up have a non-sales conversation about it with 10 people who match your target customer model.

2) Lots of people don't read a ToS. Or if they do, they're not going to be 100% confident that their interpretation is what will stand up. If this is a legitimate concern for your users, you need to allay that concern, directly, in your primary sales contexts. Make it a focus item on your landing page, with design such that people will see it and go "oh, okay, I don't need to have that concern after all."

As somebody who previously prepared many tax returns for farmers, it's great to see people trying and help them to be more profitable. A very small percent of them actually are profitable. (Not including the ones who are trying to show a loss for tax reasons :p) 20% is a good start, and hopefully tools like this will help more farmers, because I like fresh and real food, usually local, and many of them definitely struggle.

Kudos, this is exactly the kind of response I love to see.

This is an excellent point. During university, I was part of a team that published a business case centred around the story of Vidalia Sweet Onions. This guy had developed a technology that took a sample of onions from a farmer's field, crushed the onions, and analyzed them for the characteristics that made for sweetness. The batches were tagged with grid numbers to enable farmers to confirm which plots of land had the type of soil necessary to make truly sweet onions. This then enabled the farmers to guarantee the sweetness level of various onions. The old guard was absolutely against it, as the collective of farmers that sold under the brand of Vidalia onions partly depended on the mysticism of not knowing which plots of land were able to generate sweet onions. Without this testing technology, the farmers were all on a level playing field, irregardless of their actual soil composition. The testing technology was able to clarify which emperors had no clothes. Whether a farmer can or should be able to own the data that is critical to his success is a question people never really had to consider before.

I liken it to mining. The companies who dig for various mineral deposits make significant investments into exploration of the ground. Their exploration generates a ton of data. They use that data to determine where to dig further and estimate the financial potential of the deposits. This then determines company stock values. It's ludicrous that such data may not be owned by the mining company that generated it (or acquired the rights for it). Obviously, what's happening with farms and FarmLogs is not a perfect analogy. But the parallels are interesting.

"... This has become more of an issue with farmers over the past year, as they realize their data is a commodity just like what they raise--whether crops or livestock. ..."

What is stopping a local server/you own the data solution? Is it the cloud solution is the only one on offer or is it too hard to get the hardware/software to the gate?

I've got no experience/knowledge of the FarmLogs platform, but I would guess the reason farmers arn't doing this themselves is probably the same reason they don't host their own email platform: It requires a level of technical skill, plus time and money to do so so that it works well.

There are desktop-based farm management solutions out there from companies like Ag Leader, John Deere, Trimble/Farm Works, and others. Some of these interact with smartphones or tablets (sync on LAN, maybe Internet).

Many of these companies are also moving towards cloud/SaaS-based solutions and developing private networks to facilitate real-time data ingestion from their equipment (tractors, combines, planters, sprayers, irrigation systems, wagons, etc).

So there are local solutions, and they're installs like any other software.

This article says the equipment vendors are going out of their way to lock in the farmers to specific platforms and making it very hard for farmers to do anything without the manufacturers/dealers.


Couldn't you say that about most tech solutions available today?

Particular as a farmer I imagine you have little time to be screwing around with a local server that's prone to failure. A company looking after that for you is probably quite tempting.

> you have little time to be screwing around with a local server that's prone to failure

While I agree with the fact you shouldn't be screwing around with a server, that doesn't mean running your own server with your own data on it isn't a good idea. It's just we're not quite there yet!

It's usually too hard to set up such a system yourself.

I'm strongly rooting for https://sandstorm.io/ here - I hope they'll be able to provide a good alternative for SaaS businesses.

I looked at it due it's consolidation of weather records with fields. Not totally impressed with the implementation but there could be significant value in analysis of larger areas, catching disease spread early or tracking pest migration.

It's good to see that consumers are beginning to question who owns and controls data that is collected from them. I sometimes think that the "big data" revolution is worse than anything the NSA is doing.

/s/cloud-based services to agriculture/cloud-based services

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