Visionaries: Bringing Open-Source Tools to Farmers

We’re starting to use this term “open-source” in agriculture more frequently. What we mean by “open-source” is not open access to the data, but it’s open-source regarding the code that handles and
deals with the data. So, that’s very different than open access to my data,
because my data might be my data (and I have a few trusted advisers that I would share with), but I don’t want the whole world knowing my proprietary secrets of how to farm corn right there. The kinds of data we’re collecting and integrating these days have economic and environmental benefits of a wide variety.
An example: Once we had a better understanding of exactly when does a
crop need water, then we could improve when we irrigate and how much we
irrigate. You don’t irrigate, you’re saving money. But if you do irrigate, because you’re going to produce a better crop, that’s instantly not costing, that’s
instantly benefiting. One of the apps that we’ve developed as part of our OATS (the Open Ag Technology Systems Group) is a watershed delineation app. It uses this high-resolution topography data that’s available (at least in the state of
Indiana) nearly instantly. In seconds, on your phone, while you’re in the field,
delineate a watershed, and by that I mean, determine: For where I am, where is the
water coming from that’s going to land where I am? We can do that in a matter of seconds while in the field, and traditionally, that would take a lot of
analysis — looking at topo maps, visit to the site, and back to the office, run some
models. Now, we can do it on the phone with a very user-friendly app. So, that’s
really the goal is to build a community around open-source methods to increase
the interoperability, the integration of data in ag.

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