Open Source Farming

Benchmark the value of your agtech software expectations by reviewing options for (nearly) free solutions.

The abundance of emerging agtech may be able to solve any problem a farmer may have, but the upfront costs and ongoing subscription fees can bring expenses through the roof. Taking into consideration that the growing agtech sector can be pricey and ill-suited for smaller operations, here are a few new companies aiming to make farm management software free, fair, and more accessible. 

Cropio allows you to use satellite technology and other data to make decisions on irrigation and fertilizer application. The service costs 40 cents to $2 per acre per year. Users love the simplicity, ease of use and the regular updates and improvements. It requires very little if any training to use. 

Harvest Profit’s farm management software allow producers to track their P&L in real-time giving them the confidence to make less emotional and more profit-focused farm business decisions. Basically, allowing you to measure revenue and analyze field-by-field profits. At $1,500 per year it isn’t cheap but a consulting package that includes personalized calls twice per month goes for more than five times that. 

Croptracker is a solution that manages everything from worker punchcards to spraying events to RFID harvest tracking. They offer a per-service pricing plan that starts as low as $5 per user per month, but that scales up to a couple of hundred dollars for more comprehensive packages. This makes it significantly cheaper than Granular, Conservis, Agworld, and others for smaller farms. 

Now, watch this Open Source story video (10mins but very good). In this video they talk about using software like farmOS which is a web-based application for farm management, planning, and record keeping. It is developed by a community of farmers, developers, researchers, and organizations with the aim of providing a standard platform for agricultural data collection and management. It is licensed under the GNU General Public License, which means they are free and open source.

"The farmOS server is built on top of Drupal, which makes it modular, extensible, and secure. The farmOS Field Kit app provides offline data entry in a native Android/iOS app, and as a progressive web app (PWA)"

That's right. Free. Nobody is mining it or monetising it in any way. It’s yours. You can export it in whatever way you want.” And it is infinitely customisable if you’re tech savvy. “Since it’s open source, you can change the code, if you want to do your own customizations. 

farmOS isn’t the only option for those seeking open-source alternatives, but it reflects the recent iteration of the open source farming movement, which emerged 15 years ago with a website on which farmers shared designs for hand tools and tractor implements. The scrappy movement has since evolved into an online community seeking to make the most advanced digital technologies of precision farming available to everyone. 

Developers are building additional farmOS modules—which will become open source—to help farmers organize additional activities such as animal movement through paddocks. Enterprising farmers can even hack together their own “smart farm” by connecting low-cost soil moisture sensors, greenhouse humidity monitors and other hardware to $35 Raspberry Pi computer kits that can feed the data into farmOS.