The potential gains associated with digitizing Canadian farm records are clear - increased productivity, efficiency, sustainability, and ease of access to the data that will help keep Canada’s farmers competitive and get the best results from their land.
But there’s a problem on the farm. Most Canadian farmers are aware of the benefits from data, but they often don’t want to share it. A 2019 Farm Credit Canada (FCC) survey found that most farmers see the value in digitizing records but were trepidatious because of concerns over who owns the data and how it will be used.
It comes down to whether farmers trust their software providers.
Chris Vanthuyne, a Product Owner at Farm Credit Canada (FCC), flagged trust as one of the key barriers to getting more buy-in from Canadian farmers, at CityAge’s event, Data to Drive Better Food Outcomes on May 6th.
“If a user doesn’t trust who you are as a company or as a software provider it’s not likely they’re gonna make the leap and start using your solution no matter how good it is”, Vanthuyne told the Data to Drive Better Food Outcomes CItyAge audience.
For Vanthuyne, relationship-building and transparent dialogue are the keys to securing that trust. That’s why FCC’s software, AgExpert, was the first Canadian software company to get Ag Data Transparency (ADT) certification in 2018.
The ADT certification is based on a list of core principles that outline proper conduct for providers and what information and actions their users have rights to.
Vanthuyne said FCC's certification opens up a dialogue with farmers built on simple language and principles that assist farmers in asking the right questions and navigating data and software contracts confidently.
In particular, it makes farmers feel more empowered to ask who owns their data, how it will be used, and who has access to it, he added.
Kerry Wright, CEO of Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network and another speaker at CityAge’s May 6th panel discussion, also noted the importance of clear and simple language in building a relationship between the tech and agriculture sectors. When a software provider clearly communicates what they’re trying to achieve as a company, and how they plan to use the data, farmers aren’t left in the dark.
Vanthuyne said that the farming industry is inevitably headed towards more digitization. The more trust and transparency between software companies and farmers, the smoother and more successful that transition will be.