Share with your friends










Submit

Analytics Magazine

Oil & AG Analytics: Mother Nature meets the Internet of Things

November/December 2015

 

Agriculture

By Atanu Basu (pictured) and Gabe Santos

Atanu BasuWhat does the oil and gas industry have in common with agriculture? More than you think. Both industries are influenced by Mother Nature in complex ways that we understand better every day. Advancements in computational technologies are making it possible to interpret information about nature’s impact on these industries in ways not possible just a few years ago.

It used to be all about understanding your numbers and then making a decision based on that structured data. But now industries, including complex ones like oil and gas, are using sensors to tap into information such as sounds, images, videos and text. That unstructured information can be mined just like numbers to unearth valuable insights that would not have been known otherwise.

In oil and gas, Mother Nature has packed several surprises and challenges hidden underground. She put oil inside rocks deep beneath the land, and though the industry has known this for a long time, it didn’t know how to extract the oil economically. Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are revolutionizing the industry and helped catapult the United States into the world’s No. 1 producer of oil and gas [1]. But even with these technologies, a lot of oil is being missed. That is where advanced sensors capturing data, i.e., the Internet of Things, is augmenting production capabilities.

For example, fiber optic sensors laid along a horizontal well for miles underground record and report – every foot and every second – the sound, pressure, temperature and more of hydraulic fracturing and energy production. Well operators, equipped with this information, get a new understanding of how a well is performing over time. In other words, the sensors help explain what is happening to Mother Nature during the energy extraction process.

Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are revolutionizing the oil industry.
Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are revolutionizing the oil industry.

With these disparate sources of information flooding in to operators, they need a way to connect the dots and take the best actions possible for each well. That next step is the province of prescriptive analytics, a technology that is domain agnostic by design. Prescriptive analytics software takes all of that structured and unstructured data and predicts what’s ahead and prescribes what can be done to achieve the best possible outcome. Working like a central nervous system, prescriptive analytics takes all of that data through numerous mathematical and computational algorithms and creates a recipe that tells operators how to change their settings for such things as water pressure and chemicals to get more oil before moving on to the next well.

The Agriculture Angle

What does all of this have to do with agriculture? The same principles used to maximize profits in the oil and gas industry can be a boon for farming. Like in oil and gas, sensing equipment is greatly empowering farmers by providing real-time analysis of crop condition, crop stress, growth stages, disease pressure, insect pressure and problem areas within fields.

Precision agriculture started with the development and commercial availability of GPS and satellite imagery and allowed for more accurate production areas, soil mapping and soil sampling. As a result, producers, agronomists and other experts could pinpoint the exact location and scope of problems in their fields. But field and yield information is only valuable to farmers if it informs a management decision or agronomic practice.

With the application of prescriptive analytics, farmers are not entirely dependent on nature’s whims. They now have a better way to use the information they’ve derived from a broad spectrum of structured (i.e., soil pH levels) and unstructured data sources (i.e., aerial satellite imagery).

Variable rate application has enabled farmers to target nutrients where they are most needed, rather than blindly broadcasting crop nutrients across the entire farm. Moreover, agronomists are now able to make specific prescriptions for growers based on their goals, and these prescriptions can be made to maximize yields, build and maintain nutrients over time, and reduce costs.

Agriculture represents the next frontier for prescriptive analytics. Precision agriculture is giving way to decision agriculture. It’s a prescription for happy farmers.


Atanu Basu is CEO & president of Ayata, an Austin, Texas-based company that develops prescriptive analytics software solutions. He is a member of INFORMS. Gabe Santos is managing partner of Homestead Capital, a private investment partnership formed exclusively to invest in operating farmland. A version of this article appeared in Global AgInvesting News. Reprinted with permission.

 

REFERENCES

  1. http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=20692

business analytics news and articles

Analytics Blog

Electoral College put to the math test


With the campaign two months behind us and the inauguration of Donald Trump two days away, isn’t it time to put the 2016 U.S. presidential election to bed and focus on issues that have yet to be decided? Of course not.


Headlines

Three keys for organizations to gain value from information

In the current information-driven society and increasingly digitalized world, Gartner, Inc. says that sentiments are shifting from the economics of tangible assets to the economics of information – “infonomics” – and other intangible assets. Infonomics is the theory, study and discipline of asserting economic significance to information. It strives to apply both economic and asset management principles and practices to the valuation, handling and deployment of information assets.  Read more →

Burtch Works study on ‘Salaries of Predictive Analytics Professionals’

According to the recently released Burtch Works study on “Salaries of Predictive Analytics Professionals 2017,” senior-level executives saw the largest increase in salaries from 2016 to 2017, and industry diversification of employment has diluted the concentration of such professionals from financial services and marketing/advertising to consulting and technology. Read more →

New study asks, ‘Is your business AI-ready?’

Despite fears that robots will replace human labor, the majority of artificial intelligence (AI) leaders (79 percent) expect their employees will work comfortably with robots by 2020, according to a new Genpact survey of C-Suite and senior executives titled, “Is Your Business AI-Ready?” Read more →

UPCOMING ANALYTICS EVENTS

INFORMS-SPONSORED EVENTS

2017 Winter Simulation Conference (WSC 2017)
Dec. 3-6, 2017, Las Vegas

CAP® EXAM SCHEDULE

CAP® Exam computer-based testing sites are available in 700 locations worldwide. Take the exam close to home and on your schedule:


 
For more information, go to 
https://www.certifiedanalytics.org.