JoinData is an independent data platform, created to give farmers control over their data. FrieslandCampina, Agrifirm and CRV, among others, are members of JoinData as farmers' cooperatives. But is this really something farmers want? And what are the pros and cons of data sharing? Which apps and innovations can farmers make good use of? Director Sener Celik talks to various farmers in the Netherlands to answer these questions.
In the far end of North Groningen, near the salt marshes, lies the farm of Jeffrey Keurentjes with 130 dairy cows. They are milked with robots from Lely, a company that, just like Jeffrey, is affiliated with JoinData.
Jeffrey: I recently got an audit from Qlip. I spent a day and a half collecting the data from the past few years. Some receipts are on the skewer, others are online. Qlip wants to know exactly how much energy we use to produce one liter of milk. I would like an app that collects and links all that data. So that I can be done with the push of a button.
Sener: JoinData isn’t going to develop such an app and has no interest in the data. But if companies around the farm start sharing their data via JoinData, third parties can start creating these kinds of apps.
Jeffrey: I sometimes hear farmers say they want an app that lets them know when the NVWA is coming by. That’s a joke, of course. But it does show they have an interest in convenience, simplification.
Sener: We notice that farmers are not immediately enthusiastic about sharing data. Something like: Sure, but if my data is distributed via JoinData, then I no longer have any control. JoinData then becomes ‘a kind of Google’ with too much power… Except, we actually give farmers more control by offering them one place where they can manage their permissions and data streams. How come the first reaction we get from farmers is usually defensive.
Jeffrey: I think farmers are afraid of getting the raw end of the deal. In practice, this happens regularly in the relationship with suppliers. You need each other, but the supplier determines the conditions and small print. If you buy a coffee machine as a consumer and it doesn’t work, there is a lot you can do. But it’s very hard to get rid of a machine that isn’t working properly as a farmer. Asan entrepreneur, you are not well protected. If you slip once, you become wary. And if you then have to share your data with all sorts of companies, then as a farmer you quickly ask yourself: in whose interest is this really?
Sener: Do you share that fear?
Jeffrey: I see JoinData as a solution. Look at CRV, a company that sells my data to my vet. I also pay CRV to use my own data! So CRV earns double. That’s why I’m glad that CRV is now connected to JoinData. Now I can decide for myself what happens to my data, because I manage my own permissions through ‘My JoinData’. I don’t really understand what CRV has to gain by joining JoinData. What’s their revenue model?
Sener: We see a turning point in the market where companies such as CRV and Lely recognize that the farmer has the right to dispose of their data. Moreover, they have a certain foresight: tomorrow’s winners are not the parties that own the most data, but the companies with the best insights and applications.
Who is Jeffrey Keurentjes?
BornMay 1984 in Kloosterburen
CareerVan Hall Larenstein
Other functionsAdministratively active at EDF Netherlands
Jeffrey: When it comes to sharing data, many farmers are afraid of hacks and stuff. I, on the other hand, feel that my data is safer with JoinData than it is with me. You can see that companies around the farmers board up everything in terms of security, but we farmers are not properly secured ourselves. I say: leave that security to JoinData, so I don’t have to worry about it anymore.
Sener: What other apps do you have on your wish list? What would help you as a farmer?
Jeffrey: I mainly have a need for a number of links. Why do I have to enter the fat, protein and lactose content of my milk on my Lely app every three days? They’re getting my analysis through the dairy factory app, aren’t they? And I find keeping track of my medicine supply cumbersome. Why aren’t the medications I collect from the vet automatically in my business management system? They’re already registered on a nationwide platform anyway, why isn’t that linked?
Sener: These sorts of links are low-hanging fruit. I hear a lot of farmers talk about that. You don’t need any extra apps, you just need to share data, and you as a farmer can issue the authorization via JoinData. Totally convenient: all authorizations in one place. And yet, as far as we’re concerned, getting farmers to join is not going fast enough.
Jeffrey: The problem, I think, is in the word data. Farmers don’t like that. They are tired of that whole data fuss.
Sener: Already? It hasn’t even started yet! With robotization, dairy farming is very innovative, but data is still in its infancy. And we should be hurrying, or we’ll miss the boat.
Jeffrey: And then what?
Sener: Then we’ll lose our competitive edge. China’s Ali Baba is going to invest many billions of euros into this, mainly in European dairy farming. They’ll be e-mailing you with the question: you can use our apps, but then we want all your data.
Jeffrey: I won’t do it.
Sener: Okay, but if they give you 100 euros a month for your data, and you get free super handy apps?
Jeffrey: I still wouldn’t. But you’re right, an offer like that sounds attractive.
Sener: If we don’t get the farmers with us now, it will soon be the Chinese who will flood us – and the countries around us – with apps. If you use them, you will have no control over your data as a Dutch farmer. JoinData is an initiative of the sector for the sector, with the farmer at the wheel. But the farmer must be willing to steer, first!