In a world where the food demand is a major concern for the world’s growing population, agricultural companies must be prepared to figure out how to meet this demand. Critical to the success of meeting these needs is innovation. Where larger brands once dominated the innovation landscape, innovators from different backgrounds are now joining the agricultural equipment industry. Thanks to open sourcing, the barrier of entry has been lowered substantially.
Communities come together with one purpose in mind, to innovate
Individuals are taking a leadership role in the open source trend. In coming together with other like-minded individuals, groups of innovators are working hard prototyping farming equipment innovations for agricultural communities. As the farming equipment is developed, the blueprints are published online, making them accessible to the public. Farming applications are available at half the cost of those available through major OEMs.
Online communities come together to share big ideas
Online communities like FarmHack make it possible for innovators to share ideas and collaborate online. Individuals join the site and immediately gain access to the library of ideas submitted by others on the site. Users can update and contribute to existing farming equipment documentation already available on the site. They can also submit their own ideas as needed.
Companies provide platforms specifically for farming innovations
Open System Manufacturing has created a platform that makes common components available to the agricultural community. Free from the restrictions of patents, innovators can use the common building blocks to develop their own key components. The framework is comprised of engine components and hydraulic motors. Innovators can build from what is essentially a kit, developing both accessories and components.
Data in an open-source environment
Researchers at MIT have developed a platform that enables the collection of data regarding produce. Food computers are equipped with sensors to collect pertinent data as food is grown in an environment where conditions are simulated. Settings can be programmed into the system to create better growth environments for different varieties of produce. Farmers can focus on favorable plant attributes as they manage the growth of their crops with increased control over internal climate conditions.
Innovation centers created for innovators
Open Source Ecology provides the resources to inventors who are interested in developing exciting farming innovations. The center houses 50 machines required in manufacturing, all of which are available to the public. From 3D printers to heavy duty equipment, the center has everything an aspiring inventor could ever need to test and develop new technologies. Innovators have access to available resources to launch their creations without the added burden of debt that often comes with prototyping, parts engineering, fabrication and parts production. Blueprints and other design resources are available at a fraction of the cost to inventors who may lack the capital or resources to develop their products.
Open sourcing in agricultural has led to the creation of platforms, communities, centers and resources available specifically for innovators. As larger farming equipment OEMs leverage their capital and resources to develop new innovations, smaller, independent would-be entrepreneurs are jumping in, taking advantage of free and low cost resources available to the public. Dixien, LLC works with innovators, providing solutions like rapid prototyping to assist inventors in their efforts to create exciting new farming applications.