Farming in America—A Blockchain Use Case for Agriculture

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“Food safety concerns will continue to push investment in blockchain technologies. The romaine recall that occurred before Thanksgiving resulted in more than 50 people getting sick from 15 states. This was the second lettuce recall in 2018.”— Michelle Klieger, Founder and President, Stratagerm Consulting

Much has been written on blockchain for supply chain. We know we need to be able to trace food from the table to the farm in the event of a contaminated product. However, managing food goes well beyond going to the supermarket to get a pound of apples, or a head of lettuce.

My sister lives in a remote part of Idaho . It’s quite the ordeal to get to her home. I have to drive over miles of farmland. It is then that I see food supply in a whole new way. Farm after farm, I notice the automation, organization, and land management. Each farmer is looking to maximize their yield, and get their harvest to market. Most farms in this area are run by families who’ve held the farm in the family name for generations.

All in all, farming is a business, and it is a business that makes money through careful planning and farm management. While there is a host of technology from automated harvesting equipment, to sensors used to measure temperature and soil conditions, to digital planning software, the farmer continues to look for the leading edge software to stay competitive. Here’s where blockchain technology may offer a few choices.

In this article, I’ll review a few use case scenarios that meet the farmer’s need.

 Food Supply Chain Traceability

Sam Mire has written extensively about blockchain technology. In a recent article in Disruptor Daily, Mire addresses the nature of blockchain’s contribution to food supply.

Supply chain management and reporting can go a long way in helping the consumer make healthy choices for their lifestyle. The most critical need for getting the right data about any contaminated food source. Once a contaminated produce has been identified—with blockchain technology—the farmer can now advise the markets of the issue from farm to table, in real time.

Image Source: pinterest.com Consumers can now track the farm to table process.

With blockchain immutable ledger technology, information about all aspects of the farming, harvesting, production, packing, and transport from the farm to distribution centers across the nation is a part of the permanent record in the ledger.

Unfortunately, buyers and consumers also need to be aware of food fraud.  With the “the power to trace commodities and create data-rich digital assets,” notes Mire, blockchain will be able to address the growing problems of global fraud and security issues.

 Crop and Food Production

The science of farming requires the ability to make predictions about the yield of a crop, or even what crop to plant.

With modern technology, farmers now use much more sophisticated tools to monitor and grow their crops. Smart farming now includes using sensors and tools on the farm to measure soil temperature, water levels, and more—all of which can now be accomplished with Internet of Things (IoT) sensors that can gather all this data and send it to the blockchain. With this saved data, “smart contracts could trigger and execute the specific actions.” (Hackernoon)

Weather Crisis Control

Farmers have to deal with weather factors. In many cases, it can be unpredictable throughout the year. However, farmers have always attempted to better understand weather. Indeed, since 1818, farmers have relied on the Farmer’s Almanac for long range predictions on weather. (Farmers’ Almanac)

With IoT, weather sensors can collect weather data which can be reported with blockchain. WeatherBlock  is planning on creating a transparent, secure and efficient marketplace for weather data—which may be a viable method for farmers.

As it is possible for the involved members to trace the weather conditions from the blockchain solution, farmers can quickly request and receive insurance claims through smart contracts.

 

Conclusion

Blockchain has the potential to improve our lives, and help each one improve the quality of their lives. Most likely—nothing is more critical to living than being assured we have the right food to eat. Blockchain has the potential to improve the quality of our food supply from the perfect tomato about to be harvested, to the perfect organically grown bunch of spinach on your table.

Will blockchain be able to help increase the yield for a harvest?  That remains to be seen. But it is a worthy endeavor to be able to share the technology with developing nations where food supply doesn’t often reach the neediest in their countries.

Knowledge is king, and an asset. So too, is knowledge about our food. Whether it is information about contamination, or data on the quality of organic growers, or to reduce fraud in the food supply chain—blockchain is poised to offer solutions that can by disruptive in the market.

As we say in Paris—“Bon appetite!”

 


Sources

B., Justin, “How WeatherBlock is Forecasting Weather Using Blockchain”, CryptoVibes, August 2018.

Editors, “How will Blockchain Agriculture revolutionize the Food Supply from farm to plate?”, Hackernoon, April 2019.

Farmers Almanac, “How Does The Almanac Predict The Weather?”, https://www.farmersalmanac.com/how-we-predict-weather, August 2019.

Idaho State Department of Agriculture, https://agri.idaho.gov/main/idaho-agriculture-facts-and-statistics/, “Agriculture in Idaho”, August 2019.

Mire, Sam, “What Trends Are Shaping Blockchain In Agriculture? 5 Experts Share Their Insights”, Disruptor Daily, June 2019.

 

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