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jerryking : precision_agriculture   5

Sponsor Generated Content: 4 Industries Most in Need of Data Scientists
June 16, 2014 12:00 am ET
4 Industries Most in Need of Data Scientists
NARRATIVESby WSJ. Custom Studios for SAS

Agriculture
Relying on sensors in farm machinery, in soil and on planes flown over fields, precision agriculture is an emerging practice in which growing crops is directed by data covering everything from soil conditions to weather patterns to commodity pricing. “Precision agriculture helps you optimize yield and avoid major mistakes,” says Daniel Castro, director of the Center for Data Innovation, a think tank in Washington, D.C. For example, farmers traditionally have planted a crop, then applied fertilizer uniformly across entire fields. Data models allow them to instead customize the spread of fertilizer, seed, water and pesticide across different areas of their farms—even if the land rolls on for 50,000 acres.

Finance
Big data promises to discover better models to gauge risk, which could minimize the likelihood of scenarios such as the subprime mortgage meltdown. Data scientists, though, also are charged with many less obvious tasks in the financial industry, says Bill Rand, director of the Center for Complexity in Business at the University of Maryland. He points to one experiment that analyzed keywords in financial documents to identify competitors in different niches, helping pinpoint investment opportunities.

Government
Government organizations have huge stockpiles of data that can be applied against all sorts of problems, from food safety to terrorism. Joshua Sullivan, a data scientist who led the development of Booz Allen Hamilton’s The Field Guide to Data Science, cites one surprising use of analytics concerning government subsidies. “They created an amazing visualization that helped you see the disconnect between the locations of food distribution sites and the populations they served,” Sullivan says. “That's the type of thing that isn't easy to see in a pile of static reports; you need the imagination of a data scientist to depict the story in the data.”

Pharma
Developing a new drug can take more than a decade and cost billions. Data tools can help take some of the sting out, pinpointing the best drug candidates by scanning across pools of information, such as marketing data and adverse patient reactions. “We can model data and prioritize which experiments we take [forward],” Sullivan says. “Big data can help sort out the most promising drugs even before you do experiments on mice. Just three years ago that would have been impossible. But that's what data scientists do—they tee up the right question to ask.”
drug_development  precision_agriculture  farming  data_scientists  agriculture  massive_data_sets  data  finance  government  pharmaceutical_industry  product_development  non-obvious  storytelling  data_journalism  stockpiles 
june 2014 by jerryking
The Triumph of the Family Farm
CHRYSTIA FREELAND | JUN 13 2012 - Chrystia Freeland - The Atlantic - Chrystia Freeland - The Atlantic

In 2010, of all the farms in the United States with at least $1 million in revenues, 88 percent were family farms, and they accounted for 79 percent of production. Large-scale farmers today are sophisticated businesspeople who use GPS equipment to guide their combines, biotechnology to boost their yields, and futures contracts to hedge their risk. They are also pretty rich.

“It definitely is not just your father,” Jason Henderson, the vice president and branch executive of the Omaha branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, told me. Henderson is essentially the Fed’s top analyst of the agricultural economy. “In the U.S. and Canada in 2010 and 2011,” he said, “farm incomes have been booming. U.S. net farming incomes rose more than 20 percent in each of those years. Farmers are flush with cash.”...Big Money has noticed these trends, and is beginning to pile in. “We are seeing a tremendous uptick in allocations and interest in farmland,” says Chris Erickson of HighQuest Partners, an agricultural consultancy and investor. Erickson told me that big institutional investors—pension funds, insurance companies—have recently been making investments in farmland ranging from “the several hundred millions to the billions.” Erickson said this broad interest is new, and is driven by the fact that “the fundamentals are changing dramatically.”

Jim Rogers, who co-founded the legendary hedge fund Quantum with George Soros, told me he believes farming is “one of the most exciting professions” in the world—and that the recent boom is likely to continue for a long time. “Throughout history, we’ve had long periods when the financial sectors were in charge,” he said, “but we’ve also had long periods when the people who have produced real goods were in charge—the farmers, the miners … All of you people who got M.B.A.s made mistakes, because the City of London and Wall Street are not going to be great places to be in the next two or three decades. It’s going to be the people who produce real goods.”...Most encouragingly, the agricultural boom shows that globalization really is a two-way street, and not just for the geniuses at Apple and Goldman Sachs. The rising global middle class wants hamburgers—which is where farmers come in—but it also wants hundreds of other middle-class comforts, and as it grows richer, it will be able to afford more of them. Helping to fill these wants is where many of the rest of us should look for opportunity. And you don’t have to work for a corporate behemoth or have a venture capitalist on your speed dial to take advantage of the changing world economy. One of the most surprising aspects of the farm story is that its heroes are self-employed entrepreneurs, albeit ones who own a lot of land.
prosperity  farming  agriculture  Chrystia_Freeland  precision_agriculture  sophisticated  farmland  private_equity  agribusiness  innovation  investors 
may 2014 by jerryking
With twists and turns, Farmers Edge finds its growth partners - The Globe and Mail
Oct. 31 2012 | G&M | SHELLEY WHITE
Wade Barnes, the founder, president and chief executive officer of Farmers Edge, found himself in an enviable position: He had offers from nine different companies wanting to invest in his flourishing agri-business.

The Winnipeg-based company uses satellite imagery to pinpoint where and what crops farmers should plant, as well as what fertilizers and crop-protection products to use.
agribusiness  precision_agriculture  entrepreneur  farming  agriculture 
october 2012 by jerryking

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