Microsoft logoSource: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

What you need to know

  • Microsoft and Land O'Lakes announced a multiyear partnership.
  • The companies will work together to address issues facing the agricultural industry.
  • The partnership includes attaching sensors to cows to receive valuable data.

Microsoft and Land O'Lakes announced a multiyear partnership today that includes several ways to improve technology in the farming industry. The joint effort includes enhancing the supply chain, expanding sustainability practices, and closing the rural broadband gap. A news post from Microsoft breaks down the details of the deal and the combined efforts the companies will take.

Land O'Lakes has 150 million acres of cropland, so improvements scaled across all of that land can quickly add up. Microsoft and Land O'Lakes will utilize AI and cloud technologies to make agriculture more sustainable and more profitable.

"Through our partnership, we will apply the power of Azure and its AI capabilities to help Land O'Lakes solve some of the most pressing challenges facing the industry and bridge the divide between rural and urban communities," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in Microsoft's news post. Microsoft points out in that agricultural industry faces several challenges, including supply-chain issues, production issues, and other factors that affect viability. The partnership between Land O'Lakes and Microsoft addresses several of these issues.

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Nadella and Land O'Lakes CEO Beth Ford shared a call on Microsoft Teams that Microsoft shared on YouTube.

Both companies will work to bring together several already existing technologies into one unified architecture. These technologies coming together will allow Land O'Lakes to get more meaningful and timely insights to guide decision making. For example, farmers could see signs of plant stress, know when and where to address issues with crops, and know the best time to take certain steps to maximize crop yield.

Microsoft and Land O'Lakes will also create a Digital Dairy solution. This will utilize edge computing and AI to provide insight to dairy farmers. Data brought in will include weather, feed management, and animal health, all brought together with sensors and apps. With this collection data, dairy producers can make sure milk doesn't' go bad while it's in its supply chain and lower the amount of wasted food for livestock.

In addition to improving the yield of crops and management of dairy farms, the partnership will help improve environmental impacts of farming. The partnership will make it easy to predict the carbon benefits of certain farming practices. For example, a company could see the changes that would be caused by no-till farming, precision nutrient management, and planting cover crops.

The joint efforts of the companies will also bring broadband connectivity to more rural areas. Microsoft's Airband program will work together with specific locations of Land O'Lakes owner network to connect more people to the internet.

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