The more I learn and work in the field and in the technology that will work on the field, the more I found that farming needs open source tools. From protocols and equipment, to digital tools.
As one of the oldest professions of the Antropocene, agriculture has evolved from the transmission of knowledge from generation to generation. Friends and allies enjoyed the ripe benefits of innovation and them, consequently, evolved new practices and introduced new ideas to the agricultural landscape. But that changed dramatically during the last 70 years. The industrial complex became a race of “the winner takes all” approach. Closed sources, private discovery and very strong enforcing of protection of Intellectual Property made the new agriculture a game of strategy.
For the last ten years, all this innovation got concentrated in four major players: Bayer, ChemChina, Dupont and BASF. And these behemoths have closed the sources even tighter. Proprietary software, close protocols and lack of interoperability result in farmers needing to buy into one of the players and having to commit to it to avoid the pain of migration.
In the last 10 years innovation has been mostly the digitalization of the farm. Digital maps, digital reports, digital accounting. But this is not real innovation, is just a step towards it.
In my opinion, the next big wave that will transform agriculture as we now it today, will be born from the sprout of new open (free) protocols, technologies and tools that will enable easy sharing, strict data ownership to the user that is portable and sovereign, replicable and scalable in different contexts and deployable with simple tools.
There are many projects and groups trying to move the needle forward, but is unfortunate that their traction is still mostly hobbyist and tech-driven farmers (pioneers for sure). I hope more startups and farms keep building on this blocks of open ag. Their competitive advantage will be in the ability to use this tools (and its continuous enhancements) to make tastier, healthier and profitable products from open farms. That is the only way to make farming an open source environment.
PS: If you have/know projects that are embracing open source farming hit me an email to: openfarming [at] yorch [dot] co