Many of today’s farmers and ranchers are ex­­panding into a new frontier — the age of "big data."

Companies have been gather­ing data about consumer buying habits for years. For many farmers, dealing with comp­anies that want to collect their data about planting practices and crop yields is new territory.

Seed and farm equipment companies — we call them agricultural technology providers — are offering services to help farmers be more efficient and productive. Data will flow straight from a farmer’s tractor to the company he uses.

In return, farmers will get information...