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DuPont adds weather, new trading to precision farming program

A DuPont logo is pictured on the research center in Meyrin near Geneva August 4, 2009. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
A DuPont logo is pictured on the research center in Meyrin near Geneva August 4, 2009. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

By Carey Gillam

(Reuters) - DuPont Pioneer, the agricultural seed unit of DuPont, said Tuesday that it signed a deal with DTN/The Progressive Farmer to provide weather and market information to farmers, along with new grain trading capabilities, all accessed through mobile devices.

"Our customers are running small businesses. Production in the field is really important as well as the business side. So this is just another step to being able to address key needs," said DuPont Pioneer Director of Services Joe Foresman.

Foresman said financial terms of the deal are not being released. Branding, packaging and pricing decisions for the offerings are still being determined, he said.

DuPont Pioneer customers will have access to an exclusive network of weather stations, including those positioned on growers' farms, for real-time local information, as well as environmental conditions in other regions and forecast data, said Foresman.

DuPont and DTN also will combine technologies from both companies to offer farmers electronic grain trading capabilities, officials with both companies said.

The announcement comes three months after DuPont inked a deal with farm machinery company Deere & Co that provides farmers a wireless transfer system for their data.

DuPont is racing rival Monsanto Co. to capture market share in the burgeoning "precision agriculture" arena, turning farm-related data into new profit streams by incorporating analytics on an array of data points, including soil types, fungicide application timing, weather patterns and pest management.

Monsanto on November 1 completed its nearly $1 billion acquisition of The Climate Corp, a weather data and modeling technology company. That followed Monsanto's purchase in 2012 of Precision Planting Inc.

DuPont and Monsanto officials both say the future of farming and increased food production will be closely tied to sophisticated analyses of data to inform farmers on what types of seed work best in certain fields; where in a field they might want to plant more seed, or less; where they might have better moisture; more need for chemical treatments; and what type of weather events they might expect.

DuPont Pioneer "mapped" about 20 million acres from 2012 to 2013, filling a database that can churn out "yield maps" for customers and provide about 1.5 million acres of variable seeding prescriptions, officials said.

Omaha, Nebraska-based DTN provides real-time weather, agricultural and commodity market information for subscribers that include farmers and commodities and futures traders. DTN is owned by the French multinational energy company Schneider Electric SA.

(Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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