Open Source in agriculture?!
When most people think of “open source”, they don’t initially think of agriculture, gardening or food cultivation. In fact, it is precisely in this area that there are promising ideas and lively developments.
This is possibly due to the ever-growing population and the climate crisis, which will increase the potential for food insecurity in the future. One possible solution to these problems and sustainable food production may be precision agriculture. It is characterized by the use of digital technologies to monitor and optimize agricultural production practices and provides a mechanism to improve food security and create sustainable food patterns. Various sensors are used for this purpose, such as those that measure the water storage capacity of the soil or the temperature. If, for example, an irregular water storage capacity of the soil is detected by the devices, the water supply to the plants can be adjusted to their needs. Your own garden or farm thus becomes a research station. The easiest way to implement this concept is with the help of open source technologies and applications to grow food where it was not possible before and have a food source at any time of the year. In open gardening and open farming, food computers in particular are widely used. These are basically tabletop gardens controlled by a computer through a network of sensors, lights and fans, and were first developed by students at Green Street Academy. It is a foam box that contains everything a plant needs to grow and thrive: Water, food, light and a controlled climate. But Open Gardening and Open Farming are not just about the technologies used, but also the corresponding open mindset. All of these developments were and are only possible through collaboration. In the foreground of the Open Farming community is the exchange of knowledge and ideas in order to jointly and mutually realize and further develop the various projects. In the following, we present four such open projects that are working together to address the problem of the climate crisis:
With FarmBot, anyone can use CNC machines that use control technology to automatically produce workpieces and the associated web app on any computer or mobile device to grow various plants and vegetables and manage their own garden from anywhere. The control system is operated manually and no programming skills are required. The open-source technology can grow a person’s entire vegetable needs continuously, and after two years, at a lower cost than buying from the average U.S. grocery store.
OpenFarm is a free and open database of agricultural and horticultural knowledge. The idea was to create, with the help of experts and beginners in agriculture, a centralized, structured and open dataset describing how to grow plants under specific environmental conditions and with specific cultivation practices. This created a community and tools for freely sharing crop knowledge locally and globally, with the goal of breaking down boundaries through the open exchange of knowledge and increasing participation in the food system. All data and content of OpenFarm is in the public domain (CC0) and thus easily accessible. The source code of OpenFarm is available on GitHub under MIT license.
farmOS is a web-based application for farm management, planning and recording. It is being developed by a community of farmers, developers, researchers, and organizations with the goal of providing a standard platform for collecting and managing agricultural data. The farmOS server is based on Drupal, which makes it modular, extensible and secure, and, like the accompanying app, is licensed under the GNU General Public License, meaning they are free and open source.
TANIA is an open source farm management or administration software for farmers initiated with the help of developers, users, farmers, researchers and agriculture experts from Tanibox in 2017 and hosted on GitHub. It was developed primarily for farmers and developers interested in precision agriculture. The software works on any farm, is easily accessible, flexible, secure, user-friendly and affordable. It also provides connectivity with devices such as sensors and actuators to give farmers more control over monitoring and controlling their farm, wherever they are and whenever they need it. This allows them to make their operations more sustainable.