New open source AgStack Foundation to help scale digital transformation in agriculture

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Legacy technology systems in the agricultural sector are often slow and inefficient. They typically can’t work together across the growing and more complex agricultural supply chain at a time when more data than ever is being gathered to provide solutions. Now the Linux Foundation, supported by its leading agricultural and technology members, has launched the AgStack Foundation – an open source 21st century digital infrastructure project for the world’s agriculture ecosystem.

The aim of the AgStack Foundation is that it will improve global agriculture efficiency through the creation, maintenance and enhancement of free, reusable, open and specialized digital infrastructure for data and applications. This will enable the development of a global data infrastructure for food and agriculture which will help scale digital transformation and address climate change, rural engagement and food and water security.

AgStack – open and freely available

AgStack consists of an open repository to create and publish models, free and easy access to public data, interoperable frameworks for cross-project use and topic-specific extensions and toolboxes. It will leverage existing technologies such as agriculture standards (AgGateway, UN-FAO, CAFA, USDA and NASA-AR); public data (Landsat, Sentinel, NOAA and Soilgrids; models (UC-ANR IPM), and open source projects like Hyperledger, Kubernetes, Open Horizon, Postgres, Django and more.

Its technical projects will be part of an overarching umbrella of technologies that will enable a wide-ranging suite of software and data tools and frameworks to enable easy and common access for content creators and content consumers for the agriculture ecosystem. These will include:

  • Open and freely available, publishable, and re-usable software code for millions of agronomically-relevant models (pest, crop, animal, weather, etc.)
  • Programmatic access to a growing number of sources of free public and proprietary data
  • Open and free access to software application frameworks to create, contribute and / or consume these models and data – both for web and mobile
  • Extensions and toolboxes that provide vocabularies / dictionaries and utilities for specific projects

Sumer Johal, Executive Director of AgStack commented “The global Agriculture ecosystem desperately needs a digital makeover. There is too much loss of productivity and innovation due to the absence of re-usable tools and data. I’m excited to lead this community of leaders, contributors and members – from across sectors and countries – to help build this common and re-usable resource – AgStack – that will help every stakeholder in global agriculture with free and open digital tools and data.”

We’re pleased to provide the forum for AgStack to be built and to grow,” added Mike Dolan, general manager and senior vice president of projects at the Linux Foundation. “It’s clear that by using open source software to standardize the digital infrastructure for agriculture, that AgStack can reduce cost, accelerate integration and enable innovation. It’s amazing to see industries like agriculture use open source principles to innovate.”

The AgStack Foundation will not engage in building software applications but will instead focus on the software infrastructure (tools, frameworks, and models) that will be needed to build, manage and run applications by the members and users.

AgStack Foundation members and partners include Agralogics, Call for Code, Centricity Global, Digital Green, Farm Foundation, farmOS, HPE, IBM, Mixing Bowl & Better Food Ventures, NIAB, OpenTeam, Our Sci, Produce Marketing Association, Purdue University / OATS & Agricultural Informatics Lab, the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC-ANR) and University of California Santa Barbara SmartFarm Project.

The advancements in digital agriculture over the past 10 years have led to more data than ever before—data that can be used to inform business decisions, improve supply and demand planning and increase efficiencies across stakeholders.” said Martha King, Vice President of Programs and Projects, Farm Foundation. “However, the true potential of all that data won’t be fully realized without achieving interoperability via an open source environment. Interoperable data is more valuable data, and that will lead to benefits for farmers and others throughout the food and ag value chain.

Michael Stenta, founder and lead developer, farmOS said “AgStack’s goal of creating a shared community infrastructure for agricultural datasets, models, frameworks, and tools fills a much-needed gap in the current agtech software landscape. Making these freely available to other software projects allows them to focus on their unique value and build upon the work of others. We in the farmOS community are eager to leverage these shared resources in the open source record keeping tools we are building together.

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About Author

mm

Matt has worked in digital publishing for twenty years, holding management positions at Nature (nature.com) and William Reed Business Media (foodmanufacture.co.uk etc.). He has also worked with BBC Worldwide, Centaur Media, UKi Media and Mark Allen Group. Since 2010 Matt has been a digital consultant working with B2B media companies in the agricultural, automotive, aviation, robotics and technology sectors. As Chairman of his local allotment association Matt grows his own food whilst chasing the dream of a one tonne giant pumpkin. He is a member of the British Garden Media Guild and was a finalist in the Garden Media Guild Awards 'blog of the year' category in 2018 and 2019.

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