There's a pretty good chance that the jar of horseradish you have in the refrigerator has its origins in farms located just across the river from St. Louis.
St. Clair and Madison counties in Illinois produce the lion's share of horseradish in the U.S. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, just 16 growers in Illinois harvest horseradish from 1,779 acres, accounting for about 60 percent of the nation's horseradish. Nationally, only about 3,100 acres are in horseradish production.
Farmers have been collecting data about their farms for decades.
Now all those data are going high tech. Major agricultural companies like Monsanto, John Deere and DuPont have been developing more ways to mine that than ever before – all in the name of helping farmers make better decisions about when to plant, what to plant and how much.
The American Farm Bureau Federation met Thursday with Monsanto and several other agribusiness companies, such as DuPont and John Deere, to talk about the use of big data in agriculture.
The meeting comes as farmers grapple with whether to share information with major agricultural businesses.
The Farm Bureau had been warning farmers to be cautious as Monsanto and DuPont rolled out new data services. Those services use farmers’ information, including crop yields, to determine the best seeds to use and how much to plant.
Is there any aspect of life that technology hasn’t touched?
While I’m sure people can cite examples in the non-digital sphere, agriculture is not one of them. It hasn’t been for some time – farmers are adept at using all kinds of technology to monitor weather, pricing, soil content. But a new development is taking the idea to a new level. And St. Louis's own Monsanto seems to be leading the way.