Monsanto buys data company

New York Times News Service /

Published Oct 3, 2013 at 05:00AM

Big Data’s push to remake the industrial economy took a big step forward Wednesday, when Monsanto announced it would buy the Climate Corp.

Monsanto, which also on Wednesday reported worse-than-expected losses, said it was paying $930 million in cash for the company, which looks at data like historical rainfall and soil quality to help farmers predict crop yields. Monsanto hopes to apply Climate Corp.’s data analysis insight across the company, to create what a Monsanto executive called “the next level of agriculture.”

“A farmer should be able to grow on farmland square meter by square meter, for lots more yield, planting seeds at different rates for each meter,” said Kerry Preete, Monsanto’s executive vice president for strategy. “We’re a data company at heart, breeding seeds and helping farmers optimize yields and manage risk.”

Monsanto also plans to extend overseas the crop insurance products that Climate Corp. bases on a wealth of public data on rainfall, temperature and soil types around the United States. It is not clear how well or how quickly this can be deployed internationally.