Google Cloud Platform

Feeding 10 billion people with cloud computing: Land O’Lakes, Inc. moves to Google Cloud Platform

In 2050, the world's population will require farms to feed upwards of 10 billion people. This means one farmer will need to feed 250 people. That’s 61 percent more than a farmer feeds today. To meet this exploding demand, Land O’Lakes, Inc. is turning to the cloud to revolutionize modern farming. This is coming to life through Land O’Lakes’ WinField brand, a leading provider of agricultural solutions. Using Google Cloud Platform, they’re launching the WinField Data Silo™, a cloud-based application to help farmers make better, data-driven decisions.

Farmers make dozens of important decisions throughout their crop’s growing cycle from when to plant seeds, to where and how much to water and fertilize. Traditionally, these decisions have largely been based on intuition. But with cloud-based, big data tools that can capture, ingest and analyze data from multiple sources simultaneously, farmers can access precise information to optimize their yields. To improve decision-making tools for farmers, Land O’Lakes built the Data Silo, a cloud-native system that connects farmers with data.

Data Silo is a data collection application that ingests, stores and shares information between farmers, retailers, and third-party providers. It connects previously disparate systems, letting users quickly share information about crops and farm operations. With it, farmers can easily upload data to the platform, build dashboards and search for information. In return, they receive guidance on agronomic best practices, such as which crop to grow in a particular field, while maintaining control over who owns and accesses the data.

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Land O’Lakes worked with Google Cloud Platform Technology Partner, Cloud Technology Partners, to develop Data Silo from the ground up. In a first phase, CTP worked with Google App Engine and Google Cloud SQL to build a working prototype within weeks of starting the project. Eventually, Land O’Lakes migrated Data Silo to Google Compute Engine to run its web-based
PHP application, power the mobile and web-based interfaces and integrate with existing monitoring and security systems. In addition, it implemented the PostgreSQL database and PostGIS libraries to run complex GIS functions.

A key differentiator for Cloud Platform is its geospatial sophistication. By integrating with the Google Maps API, Land O’Lakes is able to present Data Silo users with geospatial data overlaid with labels that are meaningful to them, on their mobile devices or desktops. Users can sort and view the data according to user-definable views such as type of crop, growing periods and yields. Maps update in real-time, along with any new data that users upload to the system.

Google Cloud Platform features also present unique possibilities for Land O’Lakes and Data Silo. Today, it functions primarily as a place for growers to store and share data about their farming operations. Tomorrow, Data Silo could evolve into a data hub for a variety of agricultural applications, for example, using Google Pub/Sub for data integration, or Google BigQuery and Google Cloud Bigtable to perform analytics that further drive crop yields.

Over the past 50 years, Land O’Lakes has grown and adapted to the changing needs of more than 300,000 farmers. To help them produce more food, with fewer resources and less environmental impact, the company is investing millions of dollars in new technology. Having a flexible, secure cloud that can easily scale, is critical to Land O’Lakes’ ability to launch today’s Data Silo technology and future innovation.

To hear more about how Land O’Lakes implemented Google Cloud Platform, watch their technical session at GCP NEXT.