PARTNERSHIP Mar. 28, 2023

To Innovate, You Must First Imagine

Imagine you’re a farmer. You want to ensure that the many decisions you make throughout a growing season are the right ones, and that they’ll result in being able to produce optimum yields sold at optimum prices. You also want to be certain that your input and operational practice investments pay off, both economically and environmentally.

Now imagine you sell packaged goods to consumers as a manufacturer. You want to differentiate your products from your competitors. You also want to understand where your raw materials are coming from, what was used to produce them, and how sustainably made they are.

Finally, imagine you’re a consumer of goods (this one probably doesn’t take much imagination). As you shop for yourself and your family, you see labels. You want to know where your food comes from, what’s in it, and what practices may have been used to create, package, and distribute it. You want your label information based in science, based in data, and reported accurately.

How do we turn imagination into reality? How can we better enable digital solutions through cloud offerings in order to meet the specific needs of the agricultural value chain? The Microsoft Azure Data Manager for Agriculture (ADMA) and Bayer AgPowered Services, revealed publicly in mid-March, stand to produce accelerated value, greater transparency, and new opportunity across the food and agriculture industry.

Our Bayer AgPowered Services and Microsoft’s Azure Data Manager platform will offer opportunity across the food industry value chain, from upstream input producers all the way to downstream consumers.

From input manufacturers to consumer goods retailers, firms will be able to license and utilize the Azure platform and our flexible services, including Bayer Imagery Insights to track crop health, Bayer Growing Degree Day Calculation for identifying key seasonal timing factors, and Bayer Crop Water Use Maps that will help understand crop consumption of water, in ways that deliver insights and information transparently and accurately. In addition to bringing the first AgPowered Services to the cloud offering, Bayer is using capabilities from Azure Data Manager to power insights in FieldView.

Companies and organizations that want to innovate in food and agriculture can build their solutions using Microsoft’s robust digital infrastructure and license readymade capabilities through our AgPowered Services. Because innovators don’t need to start from scratch, they’re able to accelerate speed to value and develop differentiated capabilities for stakeholders using their digital tools. Building from a common infrastructure (ADMA) can also improve interoperability between solutions, making it easier for their customers to connect and exchange data between platforms, e.g. between FieldView™ and other services.

Additionally, firms will have the ability to contribute their own digital solutions to the cloud and make them available for third-party licensing. This flexibility supports an ecosystem that is truly collaborative, setting ADMA apart from other cloud offerings in the food and ag space that have been recently announced.

There has been an incredible amount of progress for both our teams since we first announced that Bayer and Microsoft had entered into an agreement to revolutionize the food industry. It’s been a journey filled with collaboration, innovation, and imagination, culminating in our mid-March meeting of the minds in San Francisco, California, set against the backdrop of the 2023 World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit.

Bayer Crop Science Head of Research and Development Robert Reiter on stage with Microsoft CTO of Agri-Food Ranveer Chandra at the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit, March 14, 2023.

The occasion of the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit has meant an incredible opportunity for our multiple-continent-spanning collaboration to meet in person. The formal unveiling of our AgPowered Services, powered by the new Azure Data Manager, is just the beginning. The results of our historic partnership will truly be imagination come to life, as we continue our work toward delivering new value for the food industry and stepping ever closer to our goal of delivering 100 percent digitally enabled sales for Bayer Crop Science by 2030.

It doesn’t take a ton of imagination to understand how proud we are to have reached this milestone moment, but it has taken a ton of dedication to get here. To every individual contributing to the success of this partnership, we celebrate your hard work and look forward to the next horizon.

About the Authors

Mark Pendergrast came to the Climate Product team in 2020 after an extensive cross-functional career in the Seattle tech industry, moving on to the Data & Cloud Solutions team in 2022. His history includes a 14+ year tenure at Microsoft, with a recent role in helping build out Internet of Things solutions for the then-nascent Azure industry cloud efforts. He interspersed this with stints at Seattle startups SkyKick and INRIX. And over drinks, he might even share stories from the early days at and America Online (yes - before the web!). Mark lives just North of Seattle with wife Laura and their 8-year-old sports-crazed son who keeps the family’s free-time fully occupied with activities.

Mike Clements grew up on a corn and soybean farm in Northwestern Illinois and spent six years as an aviation electronics technician in the United States Marine Corps. He holds a BS in Agronomy and Integrated Pest Management, an MS in Plant Pathology, a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics, and an MBA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. From 2002 through 2005, Mike developed disease-resistant corn lines as a member of the USDA-ARS. Mike joined the company as a Corn Trait Integration Breeder in 2005 and has since held numerous roles since, including Trait Integration Regional Lead; Patent Scientist, Intrinsic Yield and Nitrogen Strategy Lead; IFS and Nutrient Management Strategy Lead; Global IT Strategy Lead; Protocol Management Team Lead; and his current role, Business Program Director for DFS Data and Cloud Solutions.

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