How Monsanto Is Expanding Its Footprint Through Data Analytics
You probably don’t think of farmers are very data-driven or technology conscious people, but in a recent talk from Monsanto they discussed how they’re using many big-data technologies to help the more technologically-oriented farmer of the 21st century use remote sensing and the power of the Cloud to more intelligently select crops.
The proof is how much data the company tracks on a regular basis (see Monsanto’s chart above). Monsanto’s core projects generate huge amounts of bits, especially its genomic efforts, which are the focus of so much public attention. Other big data gobblers are the phenotypes of millions of DNA structures that describe the various biological properties of each plant, and the photographic imagery of crop fields. All told, there are several tens of petabytes that need storage and analysis, a number that’s doubling roughly every 16 months. As a result, Monsanto has become a big user of Hadoop, H Base and other analytics-and-storage tools.
This could be a great opportunity for some interesting visualization research, merging the photographic and remote sensing data into statistical growth models to show predictions of output and estimate effectiveness of various crops.