Information about our food system should be public or easy-to-share. Unfortunately, that is often not the case. Food is currently produced by a mix of private and public entities, and information about our food system can be opaque, hard-to-find, or proprietary and farmers may have limited control of the on-farm data they generate or ability to improve the tools they use.
Agricultural startups are often venture-funded, with interest veering toward capitalizing on farm data. Controlling such data, not just machines or sensors, is considered the most valuable game in town (at least in the short term). Closed data ecosystems hinder our ability to produce food equitably and sustainably and support farm level decision support.
Fortunately, there is also significant interest in creating open source hardware and software to increase transparency in the food chain, allow for data sharing among groups, and engage the public and make the benefits of shared data available to all. Though the number of projects is growing, they tend to be small, isolated within universities or small companies, and disconnected from one another. The result is duplication of efforts, hard to find projects, and disconnected parts producing incompatible data. The lack of coordination means that as technology rapidly changes, closed-source companies are locking up the machinery, sensors, data, and varieties of the future.
We hope to to coalesce developers and users of open ag technology around a single and clear vision:
The technologies that produce our food and the data about our food system should be public, and enable control by the farms and farmers that produce it.
Together, we can collectively address the problems which prevent the creation of advanced, high quality open technology and its adoption.
In addition, we will create an Open Ag Development Roadmap – If we collectively have a plan, then we can all contribute more effectively. Let’s reduce duplication of efforts, focus on common areas we all need, and put the effort of contributors into a broader context for funders so they can see the big picture.
May 7-9 2018 at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck NY. Applications are open now, but will close in late March so apply soon. There is money for participants who need funding – so please apply regardless of your financial status!
So – if you also believe the technologies that produce our food and the data about our food system should be public, please apply now.
The GOAT organizing team (Alix, Ankita, Chris, Dan, Dave, Don, Dorn, Greg, and Mike)
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