Sowing the seeds for success
To gain cognitive insight into farming trends and processes, and improve the accuracy and efficacy of its advice, SEGES teamed up with IBM Business Partner Mjølner Informatics to unlock the true value of its data.
Peter Enevoldsen recalls: “When Mjølner Informatics proposed using IBM Watson Analytics to analyze our data, we were all genuinely excited. Watson Analytics represents a completely new way of working with our data. After uploading a data sample into the cloud, the software doesn’t just help us ask questions and test hypotheses—it automatically searches for correlations and highlights potentially interesting areas of research. It shows us patterns that might have gone unnoticed in the past, and things that we would never have thought to look for.
“For example, when we uploaded datasets from our cattle database into Watson Analytics and integrated it with climate data, the system quickly picked up a pattern: the higher the temperature, the higher the somatic cell count in cow’s milk—meaning a poorer quality of the milk. This insight means that we can better advise dairy farmers on how to optimize milk production and increase profits. Any such insights that we can give dairy farmers are potentially hugely valuable for the national economy as a whole, because butter and cheese are such important export products.”
He continues: “With an easy-to-use, natural language interface, we can ask questions of the system in the same words that we would use if we were asking a colleague—there’s no need to understand SQL queries or do any complex programming.
“We can also quickly create engaging, detailed visualizations with just a few clicks, which helps us to gain deeper insight into our data and—crucially—present the information in a way that is easy for non-statisticians to understand. Farmers today are much more technology-literate than people realize, but it’s still very helpful to be able to present our findings to them in an intuitive way.”
Reaping the rewards
With Watson Analytics, SEGES is able to delve deeper into its data than ever before and the organization is keen to expand its use of the system.
Peter Enevoldsen comments: “Although we have only been using Watson Analytics for a short period of time, we have already gained some astonishing insights. We have been able to find answers to questions that, with our existing analytics tools, we might not even have realized that we should ask!
“This is giving us the opportunity to explore new areas of research. What’s more, being able to produce visualizations so quickly serves as a solid foundation for team discussions of the analyses, enabling us to ensure that the latest knowledge is quickly put into practice on farms.”
He concludes: “Seeing what is possible with IBM Analytics technology and the Mjølner Informatics team has inspired us and given us a whole host of new ideas. We are highly confident that with Watson Analytics, we are on track to uncovering new insights that will help Danish farmers sharpen their competitive edge.”