How data will drive profitable, sustainable farming in 2022

Teddy Bekele, Chief Technology Officer, shares how Land O'Lakes, Inc. is uniquely positioned to help ensure farm data is kept safe and used in actionable ways

We’re entering a new era of agriculture. The tools, concepts and strategies that once seemed distant are here today. And all of them begin and end with the same thing: data. I’m inspired by the opportunities this presents, like helping farmers adopt conservation practices that benefit their bottom lines, the planet and food production.

In the ever-evolving crop production space, farmers want to work with people they trust. The federated retail network—with support from organizations like Land O’Lakes, Inc. businesses WinField United and Truterra—is uniquely positioned to create an ecosystem that helps ensure farm data is kept safe and used in actionable ways. Here’s a look at how we are bringing this to life in 2022:

Expanding access to carbon markets

The growing demand for carbon assets is an enormous opportunity for farmers. Many corporations are integrating carbon removal into their climate strategies. Truterra has prepared for this moment. Over the last few years, we’ve developed a data-centric program to help farmers generate and sell soil-based carbon assets.
Less than a year after launching Truterra’s carbon program, Land O’Lakes paid more than $4 million in cash to farmers who participated. Truterra has launched its 2022 carbon program and also started a new carbon market access program to support farmers who may be interested in participating in the future.

Boosting soil health

Good soil health is critical to profitable and sustainable farming. That’s why we’re traveling to farms to collect soil data and equip farmers with field-level insights. With this personalized information, farmers can learn about the makeup of their soil and identify what management practices will maximize its health.

What’s next

Farm data has the potential to help farmers reach new heights in 2022—from emerging carbon and other ecosystem markets to premium grains and risk management offerings. But none of this will work without reliable internet. Connectivity at the farm gate enables drones to reduce fuel costs, variable rate application to reduce input use and more. That’s why Land O’Lakes has been pushing for broadband solutions in rural areas through our American Connection Project. Along with more than 175 organizations that make up the American Connection Project Policy Coalition, we’re bringing together a diverse set of stakeholders to help bridge the digital divide.

While data and broadband won’t address all the challenges facing agriculture and rural communities, it can certainly move the needle forward.

Teddy Bekele serves as the Chief Technology Officer, leading Land O’Lakes’ Ag Tech and IT organizations and is responsible for developing and implementing technology solutions for retail and farmer customers to help them produce more sustainable outputs by leveraging agronomic insights from Answer Plot® locations, labs, the WinField United Innovation Center and the collective knowledge of our organization. Teddy’s application of technology and data to the practice of farming has shaped product offerings such as WinField United's R7® Tool, Answer Tech and ATLAS portal.

Prior to his current role, Teddy served as Vice President, Ag Technology for WinField United, as well as Business CIO for WinField United providing full IT management and leadership responsibilities. Teddy holds an MBA from Indiana University and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina State University.