Addressing Agriculture Requirements in OGC

Banner: Smart Agriculture for a changing world

Few human activities are more tied to location and the geospatial landscape than agriculture. Knowing the exact condition of fields and crops provides the base for informed decisions about what farming activities should be carried out, where, and when. 

Today, highly detailed data supports variable rate application of pesticides, fertilizers, targeted smart irrigation, and more. Providing the plants with the exact amount of what is needed comes with economical as well as ecological benefits: using less fertiliser or water saves time, energy, and money while reducing the consumption of resources and runoff of pollutants. Traditional farming, based on knowledge handed down through generations, is rapidly transforming into smart agriculture.

Geospatial information is a major building block for smart agriculture. Earth Observation and UAV data today provide very detailed data about individual fields. Combined with in situ field sensor data and machine telemetry, it’s possible to get a high-resolution picture for almost any size field - ensuring that smart farming is not limited to a few large-scale farms, but can be used by the broad majority of farmers. By analysing historical yield data and current market prices, it is possible to model job cost estimations, helping farmers to decide where to best put their efforts and investments. In the context of our changing climate, all of this information can be crucial for famers to make informed decisions about switching to crops better suited to the changing conditions. 

Indeed, the rapid evolution and proliferation of information technology in agriculture is being driven, above all, by the unprecedented challenges of climate change, population growth, water & arable land shortages, pollution, and changing diets.

Within OGC, the Agriculture Domain Working Group, formed in 2014, supports the development, implementation, and use of open standards and best-practices that maximize interoperability and address these challenges. With most investments in agriculture being of a substantial magnitude, while also being expected to last for a decade or more, a major risk is the potential for single-vendor lock-in to a particular solution or approach. In this regard, the OGC principle of open consensus-based standards not only provides the flexibility of combining components to create a best-fit solution, but protects farmers’ investments through true vendor independence.

OGC is currently engaged in two major agricultural projects, CYBELE and DEMETER, both funded under Horizon 2020 by the European Commission. 

CYBELE is looking into the application of High Performance Computing (HPC) and BigData in an agricultural context, with OGC supporting the development of standardised approaches to data linking and sharing. 

DEMETER is driven by 20 pilots with real world challenges focussed around the large-scale deployment of farmer-driven, interoperable, IoT-based ‘smart farming’ platforms. OGC’s role here is the management and coordination of the pilots and to support development of standardized approaches to data linking & sharing and architectural concepts.

For more information on OGC’s activities addressing agriculture topics, visit the CYBELE and DEMETER OGC project pages, join the Agriculture Domain Working Group, subscribe to the OGC Newsletter, or follow OGC (and me) on Twitter.