Hack @ Organic! Share your ideas on challenge areas for organic agriculture

Hi GOAT Community,

The Organic Center and @sudokita are working on a concept for a hackathon for the organic farming community, and would love your input. The goal of a GOAT:Hack @ Organic would be to bring together a multidisciplinary cohort of researchers, designers, developers, and agricultural practitioners to develop equitable, open source technical infrastructure that enables research, adoption, and evaluation of organic agricultural practices.

Here are some of the ideas we’ve been batting around:

  • Organic compliance and record keeping: Organic operations are required to track detailed information for organic certification and compliance. This type of software could streamline tracking for compliance (e.g. sensors on cows to track pasture time).

  • Supply chain traceability: Innovative software focused on documentation of farm management decisions can manage everything from crop plans and inputs, to tracking costs and sales. This technology may be especially helpful for diversified crop operations, which are common for organic farming operations. Farm-to-table block chain technology can enable secure traceability of a product along the entire supply chain and assist in fraud prevention. This would also be critical for addressing and overcoming disturbances in the food flow from field to consumer.

  • Tracking ecosystem service goals: Ensuring that a farm is supporting a healthy ecosystem requires tracking of sustainability goals. These tools would target variables such as soil health, carbon sequestration, biodiversity, etc.

  • Robotic and sensing technologies: Robotic and sensing technologies that can reduce the labor burden for organic farmers by addressing issues such as on-farm monitoring, weed control and harvest. New robotic technologies are being developed to automate activities such as pruning and harvest. Sensing technologies such as drones and remote monitoring devices (e.g. temperature sensors with monitoring software for compost piles) can optimize resource use on farms of all sizes by providing high resolution, real time data that can be used to monitor pests, pathogens and weeds, track soil health and irrigation needs, and estimate crop yields.

  • Innovative machinery that improves efficiency and cost effectiveness.: New machinery could help organic growers address on-farm challenges. For example, a recent study by Frasconi et al. (2019) found that combining flaming and roller crimping was the most effective and sustainable way to terminate cover crops without tillage. Additionally, a current machine developed in Australia called the Harrington Seed Destructor simultaneously vacuums and pulverizes weed seeds as a non-chemical method of weed control. It is currently being testing in limited locations in the US.

Do you have thoughts on these challenge areas? Are there other areas that would be more important to address? Let us know!

FYI, here’s some preliminary details about our proposed hackathon:
When: Feb 2022
Where: The main hub will take place in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Local hub locations will be established at 3-5 other locations around the United States. Interested in hosting a hub? Let us know!

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