“The first data sensor on the farm, it’s the farmer!”

Published on 04.02.2021

3 questions to Christophe Hillairet, President of the Ile-de-France Chamber of Agriculture and Secretary General of APCA.

Why did the Chambers of Agriculture choose to support the development of Agdatahub?

Data has become a real component of the farm, and today, many experiments are based on their use. It must be borne in mind that all this data belongs to the farmer, so he must be able to decide who he wants to disseminate it to and for what purposes. We don’t want the American model of agricultural data exchange based on a charter that isn’t worth much. The truth is that I produce wheat… and data. And that data is valuable! It’s not necessarily pecuniary, but it’s useful for the farm and it has empirical value.

The Chambers of Agriculture also use a lot of data, from experimental farms, or collect agricultural practices, as with MesParcelles, a traceability solution for publishing technical itineraries. The subject of digital agricultural data was therefore a strategic issue to be addressed, which is what was done from 2014, with the support of the API-Agro data exchange platform initiated by the Technical Agricultural Institutes.

Agdatahub plays a leading role in the digital strategy of the chambers. In fact, we voted a deliberation already a year ago: all the data that will be used to feed a model or a platform must be exchanged via the API-Agro platform.

Next, it is necessary to properly characterize the data. Today we need them to be standardised to avoid additional costs and for better data reliability. I think it would be appropriate to move towards data labelling; a process controller is also necessary to give value to the algorithms. In my opinion, a qualification or certification of the data and algorithms is still missing.

Can you introduce us to the online management solution MesParcelles?

MesParcelles is the French leader, with 40,000 subscribers. Initially, it was a question for the chambers of agriculture to propose a traceability tool. Then, the solution integrated the CAP and the regulatory aspects. Three years ago, we opened a new way while making MesParcelles a platform. It is a question of connecting other tools present on the market such as Taméo (Arvalis’ tool)… A carbon diagnostic tool is also being considered. Our objective is clear: to find more and more partners and start-ups so that companies can connect to it and data can be exchanged via the API-Agro secure platform.

As an elected representative, I am striving to ensure that the farmer is no longer the only sensor on his farm… There is too much data entry to be done, which is why it is important to share the data! We are fed up with entering data for five or six different solutions that don’t talk to each other. Data interoperability is a major priority.

A word from your daily connected cereal business?

I cultivate 205 hectares of wheat, barley, sugar beet and rapeseed. I also board horses and I am a passionate beekeeper, in the middle of testing connected hives! I have invested in a connected combine harvester: I know where it is and what its yield is. I also have connected tractors, weather stations… I can see everything from my Smartphone. The management of my farm is done on a daily basis because I have to spend a lot of time in Paris. So I have all the notices and exploded views of all the machines on the cloud, to control my employee remotely, in the event of a breakdown, for example. Tasks are organised thanks to shared notes… A daily routine that wouldn’t be possible without digital technology.

Cereal grower Christophe Hillairet is passionate about beekeeping, so he’s testing several systems of connected beehives, controllable from his Smartphone.

More information

The digital strategy of the Chambers of Agriculture

The Chambers of Agriculture (APCA)