agtools technology to reduce waste for growers, shippers and buyers

posted October 25, 2017

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credit: Agtools

Despite the fact that 1 in 7 Americans if food insecure, every year, American consumers, businesses, and farms spend $218 billion a year, or 1.3% of GDP, growing, processing, transporting, and disposing  of food that is never eaten. That’s 52 million tons of food sent to landfill annually, plus another 10 million tons that is discarded or left unharvested on farms. Food waste occurs because of low market prices and high labor costs, which makes it uneconomical for farmers to harvest all that they produce. There is currently a lack of streamlined technology in the agriculture industry to provide accurate information that is timely and useful to industry operations.

AgTools hopes to reduce the amount of food that is wasted and increase sustainability by bringing new intelligence to the agriculture market. Their system employs real time information and statistics regarding time, cost, supply, demand, and more throughout the food supply chain and aims to optimize the economic results of all stakeholders in the industry but addressing the major communication gaps that exist between farmers and retailers. Their proprietary technology incorporates all levels of business operations from farm production to various stages of logistics, suppliers and buyers for Tier I, II or III and provides alerts and information that will directly benefit and influence decisions in the industry on a regular basis such as weather patterns and consumer trends.

Growers can use the software to plan their harvest based on solid information to get the most out of their crop. Shippers can get the data they need to have to ensure the timely and most efficient delivery of products. And buyers can get real time data to plan their purchases, know what is going on in the market every day in terms of product, availability, surplus, shortfalls, and basis for shifts in pricing

To find out more (and to try their free trial) click HERE


the right to repair and the role of open source technology.

posted June 29, 2017

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The right to repair movement is gaining traction across the globe despite pushback from powerful industries, however there is little dispute that it is being led by farmers seeking alternatives to costly licensing restrictions. Farm Hacks and open source technology are issues that are close to our hearts here at Greenhorns and we are delighted to see the continual growth of the movement.

“Imagine that you’re a farmer who bought a John Deere tractor for $25,000 – or perhaps a big, heavy-duty model for $125,000 or more.  Then something goes wrong with the computer software inside the tractor (its “firmware”).  Thanks to a new licensing scheme, only John Deere can legally fix the tractor – for exorbitant repair prices.  Or maybe you want to modify the tractor so it can do different things in different ways.  So sorry:  the license prohibits you from bypassing the encryption, taking it to an independent repair shop, or fixing it yourself.” 

– An excerpt from David Bollier’s recent article about open source technology and the right to repair.

To read the full article click HERE


if you wanted to track your local wind patterns…

posted April 12, 2017

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We’ve got another good one for all of our fellow map geeks out there. Sev just learned about Windy TV from the lighthouse keeper in the Azores. The website provides a real-time map visualization of wind and weather patterns around the globe. It allows the user to zero in on a specific address or to get a satellite’s-eye-view of whole continents, and it’s a great tool for educating yourself about about predominant wind patterns and their seasonal variations.

Utility aside, we’d be remiss for not mentioning that the visualization is in and of itself downright gorgeous; as far as we’re concerned this is kind of the best way to spend time on the internet since Google Earth.

Oh, and bonus? Windy TV also provides your local forecast five days out without the encroachment of ads.

It makes so much sense to be as familiar with the wind as you are with your coastline, your local watershed, your local politics…

The air is moving! Can you feel it?!


the open source ethos in agroecology

posted April 5, 2017

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Illustration by Freya Yost

The following paper, submitted to the Greenhorns by Freya Yost, Vice President of A Growing Culture, traces the building blocks of Agroecology (local knowledge, resilience, cultural traditions, working with nature) and analyzes them within the context of our current technological culture. This is a long but compelling piece, scholarly without being a sludge to read, accessible in tone and content, and we highly encourage everyone to read it. 

The basic premise is something that we know intuitively without necessarily having articulated it: that Agroecology is an inherently open source tradition whose knowledge and genetics have been co-opted, constrained, and privatized by for profit– to the great detriment of small farmers and ecological networks. The paper’s author casts our eyes simultaneously forward to the internet age and down to myccorrhizal networks to find hopeful models for creating egalitarian ways of producing and disseminating information to small farmers. The ultimate suggestion here– and it’s one of grave importance– is that those of us who are invested in the success of regenerative and sustainable growing ought also to be deeply committed to the overturning of proprietary development models and privatized knowledge systems. As the author writes:

All these dimensions make farming one of the most demanding and knowledge-intensive professions in the world. Sadly, because farmers are also some of the poorest people on Earth, lack of information can have devastating effects. Entire regions are vulnerable to being forced to adopt proprietary practices. Lack of information access puts farmers’ autonomy at risk. Open is not just an environmental issue, it is also a social justice issue.

The Open Source Ethos 

Open access is an ancient public good. 

Western discourse around open access has largely been restricted to academic, scholarly communications circles. In fact, many friends and colleagues have told me they first encountered open access when, after graduating from university, they were confronted with the fact they no longer had access to school databases; or when online article searches reached the dead-end prompt “click here to pay for access.”

The internet now provides a free platform for sharing knowledge. How is it possible—or even socially just—that so many of us can’t get access to scholarly research? Isn’t society propelled forward by access to the science, literature, and art of the world’s scholars? What if that research is publically funded? These are the primary concerns that drive the open access movement.

(more…)


mapping perennials

posted April 4, 2017

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Ever wish you could find every perennial farm any where you went in the country? Turns out you can. Perennial Map provides a great interactive platform for finding perennial farms across the country. Whether you’re looking to network, hire, or just learn more, farms that raise everything from maple syrup to asparagus are listed here. Is your farm missing from the list? It’s free to create a new posting!


it’s art, it’s recycle, it’s fuel, it’s interfaith, it’s awesome

posted March 11, 2017

We couldn’t help but wrap up this week with a little re-post of this incredibly inspiring and fun initiative coming of Amsterdam.

When you spend  a lot of your life in the country it’s easy to forget about all the cool things that people in cities get up to. And this here is great example of communities, professionals, artists, and academics coming together to solve a unique challenge together.

Alors,

From the blog:

Supernatural is an exhibition and community project developed by Pink Pony Express which worked with a muslim community in Amsterdam to convert leftover bread into cooking gas.

Kolenkit is a majority Muslim district in western Amsterdam with a large amount of waste bread. According to the Koran, bread is not allowed to be thrown away and must be given back the the earth, which has developed a problem with pests. Specialty bins were provided by the municipality to collect and dispose of unwanted bread in a manner that is compatible with Muslim teachings.

Per week there are about 200 loaves of bread thrown away by Muslim families in the Kolenkit. This could generate approximately 60,000 liters of biogas, One stovetop burner set on high uses approximately 1000 liters of biogas per hour. Thus, the bread from the Kolenkit could keep a stove top burning for 60 hours per week. – cyclifier.org

Well, you get the general sense of things. Head on over to their sites, blogs and what not to get more info.

Now we’re all thinking of different ways we can make biogas on the farm… it’d be a great addition to the composting toilet.

Some nice news to digest 🙂


the incredible american-made, open source, radically accessible, and utterly adaptable tractor

posted February 28, 2017

One thing that is clear when you look at Oggún’s website, watch its videos, and study its tractor, is that this a no-frills organization. No frills: just results. And that is precisely why we love them and it so much.

In his ever-relevant essay “In Distrust of Movements,” Wendell Berry writes that the local food and land movement must “content itself to be poor,” because, “We need to find cheap solutions, solutions within the reach of everybody, and the availability of a lot of money prevents the discovery of cheap solutions. The solutions of modern medicine and modern agriculture are all staggeringly expensive, and this is caused in part, and maybe altogether, because of the availability of huge sums of money for medical and agricultural research.”

What we see here, in the Oggún tractor, is exactly what kind of practical, pragmatic results come from a thrifty approach. Accessing Cuba’s local food shortage, Cuban-born  Horace Clemmons and his business partner Saul Berenthal quickly realized that Cuban farmers needed technology that was simple, rugged, and easy-to-repair. And then they asked, why don’t tractors like this already exist, tractors like the original Allis Chalmers G that farmers in the US used in the 1950s? They suspected that stock-based shareholder business models might be to blame: too much money and the input of too many people with money who just do not understand the problems of small farmers.

So, in the grand spirit of Farm Hack, they used open-source technology to build a tractor with all off-the-shelf parts. Thus, repairs can be done in the field and in small local machine shops. Oggún adapted its business model to keep over-head costs low, partner closely with other local businesses, and never develop products that are planned for obsolescence. The tractors is made in Alabama, but it’s available to and possibly revolutionary for small family farmers all around the world.

Tune into Greenhorns Radio today at 4:00 PM to hear Locky Carton, Oggún partner and graduate of the University of Iowa’s agricultural business program, speak more about this exciting project. If you can’t tune in today, don’t forget that a podcast version of our show is always available at the Heritage Radio Network!


ever needed help renting farmland? then you can help these people make an app for that.

posted October 11, 2016

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Farmers who have, would like to, or are currently leasing farm land, you input is needed!
Imagine that after a tiring search of rental properties, you have finally found the right plot of land to farm on, but you have little experience with legal matters and feel like your lease agreements are written in a foreign language– I know, I know, you’re saying, Imagine?! That is literally my life; just bear with me– imagine that in this moment, when it is probably a Friday night and no attorney will be available until Monday, that you can actually use a well-designed online app to get personally-tailored legal guidance.
This is exactly what researchers at Vermont Law School’s fantastic Center for Agriculture and Food Systems are working to create: a first-of-its-kind Farmland Lease Builder mobile app that will provide legal guidance tailored to individual farmer situations and draft leases to be used in conversations with attorneys and in lease negotiations. The idea is that farmers would to be able to use the free app to get as far as possible toward building a useful lease before they need to talk to an attorney. The app will be tailored to sustainable and organic operations — encouraging longer-term land tenure to facilitate stable farm businesses and investment in soil-building.

They have reached out to the Greenhorns asking if there are farmers or farm advocates in our network that would be willing to be interviewed by the researchers about their leasing experiences. Are you? If so, express your interest in the comments or contact Amanda N Heyman directly at amanda@jamborheyman.com.



yikes!!!!! the future of agriculture or science fiction?

posted June 16, 2016

In a recent ECONOMIST article, the future of agriculture is controlled by computers, genetic manipulation, big data, and the assumption that we humans know what is going on with soil-plant relationships (*sarcasm*). This article reads scarily of science fiction.

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“Farms, then, are becoming more like factories: tightly controlled operations for turning out reliable products, immune as far as possible from the vagaries of nature. Thanks to better understanding of DNA, the plants and animals raised on a farm are also tightly controlled. Precise genetic manipulation, known as “genome editing”, makes it possible to change a crop or stock animal’s genome down to the level of a single genetic “letter”. This technology, it is hoped, will be more acceptable to consumers than the shifting of whole genes between species that underpinned early genetic engineering, because it simply imitates the process of mutation on which crop breeding has always depended, but in a far more controllable way.”