Linux Foundation launches open source agriculture infrastructure project

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The Linux Foundation has lifted the lid on a new open source digital infrastructure project aimed at the agriculture industry. The AgStack Foundation, as the new project will be known, is designed to foster collaboration among all key stakeholders in the global agriculture space, spanning private business, governments, and academia.

As with just about every other industry, there has been a growing digital transformation across the agriculture sphere in recent years, which has ushered in new connected devices for farmers and myriad AI and automated tools to optimize crop growth and circumvent critical factors such as labor shortages. Open source technologies bring the added benefit of data and tools that any party can reuse for free, lowering the barrier to entry and helping keep companies from getting locked into proprietary software operated by a handful of big players.

Founded in 2000, the Linux Foundation is a not-for-profit consortium that supports and promotes the commercial growth of Linux and other open source technologies. The organization hosts myriad individual projects spanning just about every sector and application, including automotive, wireless networks, and security.

The AgStack Foundation will be focused on supporting the creation and maintenance of free and sector-specific digital infrastructure for both applications and the associated data. It will lean on existing technologies and agricultural standards; public data and models; and other open source projects, such as Kubernetes, Hyperledger, Open Horizon, Postgres, and Django, according to a statement.

“Current practices in AgTech are involved in building proprietary infrastructure and point-to-point connectivity in order to derive value from applications,” AgStack executive director Sumer Johal told VentureBeat. “This is an unnecessarily costly use of human capital. Like an operating system, we aspire to reduce the time and effort required by companies to produce their own proprietary applications and for content consumers to consume this interoperably.”

Open agriculture

There are a number of existing open source technologies aimed at the agricultural industry, including FarmOS, which is a web-based application for farm management and planning that was created by a community of farmers, researchers, developers, and companies. But with the backing of the Linux Foundation and a slew of notable industry stakeholders, the AgStack Foundation is well positioned to accelerate interoperable technologies that are free to use and extend upon.

“Just like an operating system, we feel there will be a whole universe of applications that can be built and consumed using AgStack,” Johal added. “From pest prediction and crop nutrition to harvest management and improved supply-chain collaboration, the possibilities are endless.”

Members and contributors at launch include parties from across the technology and agriculture spectrum, including Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), which already runs a number of agricultural initiatives — including a partnership with global food security research group CGIAR to help model food systems. Other members include Purdue University/OATS & Agricultural Informatics Lab; the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC-ANR); and FarmOS.

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