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IBM introduces ag platform

IBM introduces ag platform

The Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture can assess crop health and give market advice

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A leading computer manufacturer has developed a platform for producers and other representatives of the ag industry.

Yesterday, IBM introduced the Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture. That platform helps create electronic records for complete farm operations.

For producers, the information stored on Watson can serve several purposes, like providing marketing advice or assessing crop health, said Mark Gildersleeve, vice-president and head of business solutions with The Weather Company, an IBM property.

“We want to collate all the data from machines, satellites and drones, farming practices and environmental sources into a field record,” Gildersleeve told “We then apply Watson’s artificial intelligence to that data to gain insight.

“A grower could point his or her smartphone at a crop with a disease on it, and Watson will identify the disease. We’re also using Watson with satellite imagery to understand which parts of a field are under stress.”

The platform uses the data to try to alert farmers of potential issues. Additionally, Watson can compile data from local and futures grain markets. Producers can receive alerts about the best time to sell their crops.

Watson is not a replacement for a farmer’s management team, Gildersleeve says. Rather, the platform can help growers and their advisors make better decisions.

“Over time Watson will be giving more recommendations but some decisions are best left to the grower and an agronomist,” Gildersleeve said. “Watson can help identify a problem earlier, so the agronomist can make his or her recommendations earlier. We can’t take the agronomist out of farming.”

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