Recognised as a long-standing and active contributor across the New Zealand agri-tech and farming industry, Rezare Systems was approached to lead the New Zealand Farm Data Initiatives.
Funded by the Transforming the Dairy Value Chain primary growth partnership, and the Red Meat Profit Partnership (another government-industry Primary Growth Partnership), our work around standardisation and transparency in data sharing has been widely used in New Zealand, Australia, and internationally.
There are three main farm data initiatives:
Farmers and other primary producers often struggle to understand who can control the data that is collected about their businesses, and what their vendors and service providers can do with the data that is collected.
We facilitated the development of a Code of Practice for organisations involved in collecting, managing, or sharing farm data. A significant group of organisations, including researchers, Federated Farmers, commercial and industry good providers, and individual farmers came together in a series of workshops and online discussion groups that formed the foundation for the code.
Accreditation under the code is a reasonably straightforward process, and requires an organisation to have clear Terms and Conditions for their farmers, addressing key items of interest such as rights to data, aggregation, data sharing, and sovereignty. Companies can take any position they prefer on these topics and still be accredited, providing they communicate their position clearly, and have process or policies to back it up.
You can learn more about the Farm Data Code of Practice, and see who is accredited, at the web site.
Farmers and organisations are increasingly finding it essential to share or re-use information rather than collect and manipulate it multiple times, but that task is made more challenging by the different ways that organisations represent and interpret data.
The Farm Data Standards provide a common “vocabulary” or data dictionary that software designers, developers, and analysts can use when building new software products, or when creating connections (APIs) between existing products. The data dictionaries draw heavily on work completed by other standards organisations such as ICAR and INSPIRE, interpreting these in a New Zealand and Australian context. The vocabulary covers a range of topics from animals and stock reconciliations to spatial, irrigation and effluent, and health and safety data.
While T&Cs and data dictionaries are a great start, we considered that one more component was necessary to support effective farmer-mediated sharing of agricultural data.
We created DataLinker, which is a protocol of APIs (connection points) with standardised schemas so you can re-use the same code across APIs created by different companies. A small centralised set of web services helps developers to find sites that have implemented specific APIs, and to agree to standardised data access agreements.
The DataLinker APIs build on industry frameworks such as REST, JSON-LD, and OAUTH 2. There’s no central database: once a farm grants permission for a particular tool or system to access their data, the data moves between provider and recipient directly, until authorisation is withdrawn.
The Farm Data Initiatives are part funded by New Zealand dairy farmers through DairyNZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries through the Primary Growth Partnership funding to the Transforming the Dairy Value Chain. Part funded also by the Red Meat Profit Partnership through its Primary Growth Partnership with Ministry for Primary Industries, Alliance Group, ANZCO Foods, ANZ Bank, Beef and Lamb New Zealand Limited (representing sheep and beef farmers), Blue Sky Meats, Greenlea Premier Meats, Progressive Meats, Rabobank, and Silver Fern Farms.