Climate change, big data and agribusiness

Add Monsanto to the list of companies that feel like there are competitive risks to not owning IP and services surrounding data analytics. The agribusiness behemoth, has paid almost a billion for Climate Corp., which specializes in a data analytics platform that leverages local weather data and historical data modeling to help farmers increase crop yields and manage risk. As weather volatility increases due to climate change, farmers will face increasing risks to their businesses.

From the press release:

“Farmers around the world are challenged to make key decisions for their farms in the face of increasingly volatile weather, as well as a proliferation of information sources,” said David Friedberg, chief executive officer for The Climate Corporation. “Our team understands that the ability to turn data into actionable insight and farm management recommendations is vitally important for agriculture around the world and can greatly benefit farmers, regardless of farm size or their preferred farming methods. Monsanto shares this important vision for our business and we look forward to creating even greater experiences for our farmer customers.”

So it won’t be enough for Monsanto just to deliver genetically modified seeds or drought resistant corn. It’ll need to help farmers manage risk and adapt to unforeseen weather patterns. All this also suggests that food prices could become marginally more expensive as farmers must use advanced analytics to avoid disappointing yields. We’ll see if the improvements in efficiencies from analytics can compensate for the challenges brought about by climate change.