Tenant farmers: how "smart" agricultural equipment siphons off farmers' crop and soil data

[Read the post]


I don’t see what the big deal is. I already have to buy Chevron gas if I want access to the gauges in my Ford.


It sounds like this is actually an opportunity for someone to create a tool that attaches to the plow and measures the soil density and gives that data to the farmer for free. What John Deere is doing doesn’t sound much different than Tesla - build in extra capabilities into the hardware, then offer them as an upgrade later.


Plus audio*.

  • “FarmSiri, how’s it out yonder?”
    “Watch yerself. Yer gonna get stuck, I reckon.”

Clearly the data belongs to whoever can purchase the most members of Congress. I’m betting on Monsanto.


Solution: a third party sells the farmer a device that does the same thing, and the farmer gets to keep the data, having only paid a one-time fee for the technology. I know he already paid for the technology when he bought the tractor, but what the hell, why fight John Deere and Monsanto, just make an end run around them while flipping the bird.


And they’d get away with it too, if it wasn’t for patent law which protects the technology.

How does John Deere get their mitts on the data? Unless they strip it off when the farmer gets his tractor serviced, they would probably need to get hold of it wirelessly. “Well, shucks, I have no idea how that tinfoil got wrapped around that tranceiver. Y’know, all types of trash blows into this here field.”


Cory, I am not sure that data ownership is an issue. All of the players continue to claim that the farmers own their own data. Here’s the statement.

There’s a lot of language, but it seems consistent with the capstone assertion that “We believe farmers own information generated on their farming operations.”

Signatories include

Ag Connections, Inc.
Ag Leader Technology
American Farm Bureau Federation
American Soybean Association
Beck’s Hybrids
CNH Industrial
Crop IMS
Dow AgroSciences LLC
DuPont Pioneer
Farm Dog
Farmobile LLC
Grower Information Services Cooperative GROWMARK, Inc.
Independent Data Management LLC
John Deere
Mapshots, Inc.
National Association of Wheat Growers
National Barley Growers Association
National Corn Growers Association
National Cotton Council
National Farmers Union
National Sorghum Producers
North American Equipment Dealers Association OnFarm
Raven Industries
Reinke Manufacturing Co., INC.
The Climate Corporation – a division of Monsanto USA Rice Federation
Valley Irrigation
ZedX Inc.

Why do you think this statement is legally dispositive for the matters at issue? How is it more than a politically expedient sales pitch?


It would be nice to see some elected representatives standing up for farmers on this. It would be a popular position,

Sadly, it’s safe to assume that John Deere donated far more than any farmer, and probably has a few skilled lobbyists on payroll.

1 Like

Maybe there needs to be a law like “any data collected about you, or about your property, or on your property is also your property?” - and if people choose too, they can still sell it or place it in the public domain or whatnot. There could be an open database for soil data, for example. In no way does it seem reasonable that data should belong to an equipment manufacturer. In fact, it should be illegal to siphon other people’s data, starting at the super market cash register. I got in an argument with a cashier once who was instructed to collect every customers postal code. “That 9.95 and would you like to tell me your postal code, please.” - “No, thanks.” - “Please, you need to tell me your postal code.” - “No, I don’t. Here’s 9.95, can I have my purchase now please.” - “What’s the problem with giving me the code, don’t you see you’re holding up the line” - “1 2 3 4 5”.


Yes, and I think the ownership issue has been tangled and exploited.

It’s possible to instantaneously and cheaply use, make and modify perfect copies of the original.

The concept of use has changed and is more often than ownership the focus of dispute — and related concepts of sharing, reuse and modification.

Without adequately addressing use, the law, agreements and conventions about ownership of the original data are often insufficient to conclusively settle disputes.


The same way Tesla does? On models without JDLink I doubt Deere cares as much.

And I agree with @generic_name, there is little reason someone can’t build a 3rd party system to measure the same stuff as Deere or anyone else is doing. Hell what about machines that are a few years old? It’s unlikely they have the hardware to even record this type of data (but to be fair in big time farming a machine 3 years old is probably getting ready to be sold off to the used market.) As far as patents, that wouldn’t stop adding in hardware to do the same function as what is there now. I’m sure Deere doesn’t make all the data available via the CAN bus, which is why you get into the DMCA issues… But separate hardware and software, there is no issue.

What in the world does this have to do with tenant farmers? I know a couple of tenant farmers here in Michigan – they’re lucky to have a 20-year old Kubota that cost maybe $12K. Doesn’t really seem like Deere’s target market.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.