What can Blockchain do for Agricultural Data?

Encrypted records

A blockchain represents encrypted records (databases) linked together (ordered) and shared (distributed) with groups. Everyone in the group has a copy of all records, and they are stored sequentially; this means that each new record is connected to the previous record like a link in the chain. A “block” consists of encrypted information that one wants to store securely, a link to the previous block, and the date and time it was created.

Agricultural traceability

In agriculture, the main use of blockchain so far is for product traceability. “This represents a logical application of database/ledger technology. To enable traceability, people at the receiving end of the supply chain need a way to quickly and easily verify what happened to products throughout the supply chain.”

Food safety

Second, more on the food safety side, blockchain could allow health issues to be dealt with faster and more accurately. In past outbreaks of E. coli or Salmonella, tracing the source and determining which products were actually contaminated was a time-consuming and laborious task. Not only does this cause more people to get sick, but it is also very expensive, causing a lot of product to be thrown away simply because it cannot be proven that it is not contaminated with germs.

Traceability problem

According to ADC, “mixing” issues can be one of the most obvious barriers to traceability when dealing with produce. When a farmer dumps 1,000kg of grain into a barn with 1.2 million kg of grain, traceability is lost because now 1,000kg of grain is mixed with grain from farms across the country.

Different levels of traceability

This results in varying degrees of traceability; if the detailed origin of the crop needs to be known, the crop needs to be specially treated to maintain its identity, but at the cost of increased costs. For those with a rough idea of the crop’s origin, no major changes to current storage and handling practices may be sufficient.

Capture accurate data

Additionally, each farm machine or terminal has its own file format, which makes it quite difficult to access and share the complete record of a given farm. The industry needs to start working on taking the next step and standardizing the meaning of different data elements. For example, one farm terminal might show the crop “corn” while another terminal has “corn”, does that mean they mean the same thing, grain? feed? or round package? When using blockchain technology, we want to start bridging the gap between different data formats and “speaking the same language”, we need to ensure that when a term is used, we all mean the same thing.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store