Pick a box of assorted vegetable salad and some sweet and fresh yellow corn are a good choice for health-conscious consumers. Are they safe? If so, is it enough to meet the market needs? Those are the questions the suppliers and agricultural enterprises are thinking about every single day. The Environmental Management Consultants Technologies found out about that and became very first company in Taiwan to use Open Data to develop agricultural services that not only help the partnering farms to increase their production volume, but successfully send the products of Great AGR, Chuangsi Farm and Hsinhu Farm to the shelves of 7-11, Costco, Holiday KTV and McDonald’s Taiwan, or even exported to overseas markets.
It puts together a total of 192 items of Open Data from 26 government agencies to launch the farm management cloud service that has up to the 15 million items of agri-environment data that have been used for more than 200 thousand times. With that, it is possible to make predictions about production volume and simulate crop growth stages, so that farmers know which land is suitable for planting as well as for sowing, fertilizing, pesticide use and harvest. Production volume and value are up by 19%.
With Taiwan becoming an ageing society and the focus on service and manufacturing industries, agriculture is dwindling and idle farmlands will be spotted from time to time. However, look at Israel, the Netherlands, Japan, California and Italy that are just like Taiwan that have huge population and not enough land, but manage to have the highest production value per farmland. The key is to adopt precision agriculture technology and help agriculture transform into a whole new technological industry.
Hsu Cheng-Yuan, General Manager of Environmental Management Consultants Technologies pointed out that traditional agriculture in Taiwan depends too much on “human experience” that inevitably leads to errors sometimes. For example, farmers are using the daily forecast as the indicator for how to respond to the approaching natural disasters, or go through soil testing unless they find out something is wrong with their crops. There is no way to have a long-term strategy like this, not to say how easy it is to miss the timing to take necessary actions.
When big companies were choosing suppliers or contract farmers to cooperate, it used to be they would have to send the inspectors to visit their neighboring factories and livestock farms (number of livestock) to gather information or conduct heavy metal testing. It happens when the inspectors find nowhere to get into those places, or the location does not fit the overlay map, and the investigation and information on the tracking system will then be much influenced.
Food traceability matters a lot to consumers right now. Through the farm management cloud service, the staff on spot may use the APP to document what is happening on the farm and send the data to the farm management platform for farmers to make the best and most timely judgment, while agricultural enterprises can also choose their ideal contract farms. This precise management service makes it possible for farmers to grow high quality crops and secure stable production volume. Consumers also have access to complete and transparent food traceability information at the same time.
Hsu said that the government is working tirelessly to provide well-formatted and high quality monitoring data that is closely related to our daily life, such as weather and PM2.5. However, he also admitted that inter-agency coordination is still hard to achieve sometimes. Take weather data for instance, both the national parks and the Central Weather Bureau have their own weather stations and their own data. To make sure its Open Data applications are reliable enough, the Environmental Management Consultants Technologies is doing “tons of work” to go through and integrate nearly 2,000 items of data.
The farm management cloud service is connecting the dots, putting together data from a wide variety of fields. That helps farmers to incorporate scientific methods into farming and build a complete produce traceability system to make their products more trustworthy and enhance food safety. Young people who return to their hometowns to work on farming will also find this tool very useful. Forging ahead, the Environmental Management Consultants Technologies will continue to focus on agriculture and environmental protection and turn all kinds of data into visualized graphs and charts, as well as mobile applications that can come close to people’s lives as much as possible.