Bayer and Microsoft forge a new frontier in agricultural connectivity

Seamless data exchange in agriculture is the focus for the two corporate giants, according to content and exhibits on show in November at Agritechnica in Hanover.

Bayer unveiled at Agritechnica the latest developments in its strategic collaboration with Microsoft. The alliance aims to address the longstanding challenge of data interoperability in farming by introducing innovative data connectors. These connectors facilitate the secure and compliant exchange of farm data between Bayer’s flagship digital farming product, Climate FieldView, and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) through Microsoft’s Azure Data Manager for Agriculture.

Fieldview OEM device

Jeremy Williams, Head of Climate LLC and Digital Farming at Bayer’s Crop Science Division, emphasises the transformative nature of evolving technology in agriculture. “Agricultural data is nothing new, but technology has evolved tremendously, and so should the ways farmers are able to collect, share, and benefit from the data they generate on the farm,” he states.

The introduction of Bayer AgPowered Services on the Microsoft Azure platform earlier this year paved the way for further advancements. Leaf Agriculture (not UK Leaf) which you can read about more here – leveraging Sonata Software’s capabilities, now offers a solution to enhance accessibility to farm machinery data. Simultaneously, OneSoil is introducing new solutions for in-season crop identification.

Jeremyhighlights the significance of this collaboration. “Our industry can now rally around an infrastructure, data connectors, and readymade capabilities that can further deliver on the potential of digital farming solutions and the value we can bring to customers.”

The lack of data interoperability has been a persistent challenge in agriculture. While on-farm platforms have made strides in connecting data, the ability to extend these connections to services beyond the farm has been limited. The collaboration between Bayer and Microsoft addresses this gap.

Bayer claims its data connectors for OEMs represent a significant leap forward in improving farmer and industry connectivity. In addition to FieldView connectivity, Bayer, in collaboration with Sonata Software, is developing AgPowered Services that enable machine data connectivity with leading OEMs like Stara, Topcon, and Trimble. This integration aims to create a seamless and compliant connection to key data sources for farm machinery data, reducing the technical investment required by companies.

Moreover, the collaboration extends to include additional data sources, such as weather and imagery, providing companies with a unified platform for comprehensive insights. The introduction of AgPowered Services, such as the Bayer Farm Machinery Decoder powered by Leaf Agriculture, addresses the challenge of diverse data formats. orking with consistent data in a single format to unlock new value from existing data, is key, says Leaf.

Another notable addition to the platform is Bayer In-Season Crop Identification powered by OneSoil. This service leverages remote sensing capabilities to detect key cash crops like corn and soybean during the growing season across North America, South America, and Europe. The applications of this technology span from verification for carbon platforms to government subsidy programs for sustainable farming practices, demonstrating the vast potential it holds for the agricultural value chain.

The collaboration between Bayer and Microsoft is not only addressing current challenges but also preparing for the future. Microsoft’s end-to-end analytics platform, Fabric, provides a unified foundation for data and analytics tools. Satish Thomas, Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Industry Clouds, highlights the platform’s support for greater interoperability and its ability to ingest data from disparate sources, offering a single AI-powered analytics platform for agriculture-specific scenarios.

“The AgPowered Services from Bayer, combined with Azure Data Manager, are positioned as ready-to-use capabilities for a broad spectrum of businesses and organisations, from startups to global enterprises,” he says. “This collaboration empowers companies to harness cloud infrastructure and core capabilities to build digital tools that support favourable agronomic outcomes or provide valuable insights into nutrients, sustainability, and production practices.”