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Varda FAQ Series Part 2: Data and Transparency

Varda FAQ Series Part 2: Data and Transparency

At Varda, our mission is to foster collaboration across the agriculture industry through enhanced data discovery and sharing. Our primary service, Global FieldID (GFID), revolutionises the exchange of field data, boosting connectivity throughout the supply chain and increasing transparency. By offering comprehensive coverage and flexibility, GFID stands out as a vital tool for improving data accuracy and supporting regenerative practices.


Andrew Jenkinson, CTO



Varda is an Ag-Tech data service provider, founded by Yara, with the purpose of facilitating collaboration throughout the entire agriculture industry, through better data discovery and sharing. We are making the exchange of field data easier and improving the accessibility of field-level data beyond the farm gate, strengthening cross-supply chain connectivity. 

Our core objective is to create impactful change, improve transparency in the food industry, and support the application of regenerative agriculture practices.Starting from companies’ digital farming tools, our goal is to bring together leaders from across the agri-food industry to work together as we try to transition to a more sustainable, resilient, and transparent food system. 

This all said, these aims are only the beginning of our journey. Understanding the destination is easy, getting there is the hard part. When understanding how we can achieve these goals, it’s easy to get lost in the complexities and technology involved.  

This FAQ series will explain in detail the Global FieldID (GFID) service, answering the most common questions that our team received about our service.  


Where is GFID available?

Global FieldID is available to create IDs everywhere, but in certain countries we have full coverage of existing fields by ‘pre-loading’ large scale datasets from a variety of sources. The aim is to eventually provide complete boundary sets for every country, and we’re continuously adding more countries. So far, Global FieldID has ingested over 116,000,000 field boundaries, covering France, the Netherlands, Poland, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Sweden, Denmark, the US and UK. 

As mentioned, we also enable users of the service to generate field IDs by submitting boundaries from anywhere globally, regardless of whether we have actively sourced boundaries for the whole country. This includes growers creating IDs for their own fields, or other ecosystem partners contributing their own maps derived using remote observation technologies.


Does Global FieldID store information about the field (e.g., carbon footprint)?

The Global FieldID API focuses on basic information about the field itself and its location, and the service itself does not actively maintain a dataset of ‘opinionated’ information about its usage, such as information on farmers' practices.  Our vision for GFID is to serve as a facilitator for all, without conflicting with current data providers or farm management platforms who are better placed to provide such insights. We are striving for it to become a "universal language," promoting seamless data exchange among applications and facilitating data discovery across the supply chain.

Having said that, the Global FieldID service is an ideal point of discovery and aggregation for these secondary data layers, and enables third party developers to ‘register’ data layers about spatial objects (boundaries) and make them available to other users. These may be as simple as ‘alternative identifiers’, but could also be metadata such as crop type, land value or ownership.


Is Global FieldID free to use?

The core functionality of Global FieldID is available for free and available to all. This includes fair use of the API, bulk downloads of open field boundary polygons and the user interface.

We can also provide some custom activities that incur costs, for example:

  • Expanding coverage to specific areas of interest using either automated boundary prediction or manual delineation

  • Refreshing coverage with more up-to-date data

  • Additional data layers from Global FieldID partners (e.g. crop type predictions, seeding dates)


Is there an API to bring Global FieldID meta/data to inform public records and registries - especially for small farmers and cooperatives?


In short, the answer is yes. The Global FieldID service operates primarily through its API, allowing public records and registries to incorporate their boundaries within it. The API is currently accessible, and we actively welcome discussions with public sector organisations. In several countries (e.g. France, Netherlands, parts of Germany) possessing open cadasters of field boundaries, we have already ingested them to pre-generate Global FieldIDs.

However, the overarching vision for Global FieldID is to serve as the authoritative source for field information and boundaries. Both public and private entities can utilise it to alleviate the burden on farmers, agronomists, and governments by consolidating multiple records into one, thereby enhancing data quality. This can include acting as ‘the’ field registry for governments in countries that currently lack one.

Users are able to utilise Global FieldID, or any compatible application, to seamlessly update the systems managing farm operations and those operated by government entities.


What are the key differences between Varda's Global FieldID and other solutions aiming to solve the same issue?

Similar to other boundary ID solutions, Global FieldID enables the registration and deduplication of various types of boundaries. However Global FieldID does this in a much more flexible way by providing identifiers at different levels of abstraction:

  • A boundary ID for each unique geometry - boundaries with exactly the same spatial footprint but different metadata are given the same ID

  • A boundary reference ID for each unique combination of geometry and metadata

  • A field ID acting as a container for potentially many boundaries of different types, purposes and seasons

One key technical difference is in how this ‘de-duplication’ of spatial geometry is achieved. Whereas Global FieldID identifies a boundary faithfully from its geometry, other systems use a lossy ‘indexing’ system such as S2. Global FieldID initially developed this approach, but rejected it because it was both very rarely useful (multiple boundaries of the same field very rarely yielded the same ID), yet sometimes can result in the same ID being given to two different fields, which is a fatal flaw. It also creates problems with uniqueness, e.g. it becomes impossible to differentiate very accurate RTK boundaries with marked-out obstacles, limiting the utility of the system for interoperability between Ag-Tech solutions.

However the main differentiating aspect of Global FieldID is that, unlike other boundary ID solutions, it goes beyond a simple ‘registry of boundaries’ by maintaining a unique identifier for a field itself, separately from its spatial footprint. This field always has a geometry available to define its location but can also be linked to other boundary geometries connected to different purposes or sources. This can be used not only to generate identifiers for boundaries to those who have them, but also to provide an authoritative ‘ledger’ of the field and its shape over time - including splits, merges etc.

In addition to that, GFID stands out by providing out-of-the-box boundary geometries for the whole country where there is coverage - a map of fields, instead of an infrastructure-only solution where boundary geometry data must be entered by its users, over and over again. Being able to consistently identify all fields at scale lowers barriers to the use of field-level data for different use cases (e.g., traceability, or monitoring regenerative agriculture practices) and saves users time.


Bottom line

Through our innovative Global FieldID, we're simplifying how field data is managed and shared, making it more accessible and useful for all stakeholders involved.

By acknowledging the difference between fields, boundaries and the often complex layers of data layers, we've developed a system that keeps a detailed record of changes over time, ensuring data accuracy and transparency. This approach not only supports precision agriculture but also encourages practices that contribute to a more sustainable and resilient food system.


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