Agrineer.org revolves about the development of free and open source agricultural engineering software and hardware. Agrineer.org will be referred to as Agrineer below.
What Agrineer is
Agrineer is a founding member of IndieCompLabs, LLC, a group of computational laboratories dedicated to open source projects that are both practical and educational, from satellite remote sensing to down-to-earth fablabs.
Agrineer was founded, and is currently operated, by volunteer academicians and professionals wanting to carve out a self-sustaining path between funding and educational/research activities. Recently, conventional funding for research and educational projects has diminished considerably, and so Agrineer seeks to develop an alternative path for innovation, hoping to serve as a model for others wanting to pursue educational and research endeavors without relying on academic sources. See Business Model below for more information.
What Agrineer is not
Agrineer is not about closed source technology. Briefly put, closed source is an anathema to Agrineer's principle that technology should be transparent and improvable by the user.
To be practical, though, transitioning toward a completely open source paradigm will necessitate, to some degree, a closed source component known to be accurate and precise to the scientific community. For example, results from the Soil Moisture Estimator model application will be compared to ground sensor data from a closed source system which has become a standard and readily accepted throughout the relevant literature. Our intent is to establish that same credibility, but with open source venues. A more detailed discussion on the philosophical foundation is given below.
Agrineer's goal is to provide users with easy-to-use, yet sophisticated, computational agricultural products with a current focus on soil moisture. These include applications based on high performance computer weather data simulation, satellite/terrestrial remote sensing, and hydrological modeling, among others.
To maximize this goal, we treat these applications as a platform for educational research in order to induce improvement, while providing practical usage.
Our principles are based on the self-evident axiom proposed by the Free Software Foundation and others: technology should be inspectable, repairable, and improvable by the user.
The above axiom states that everyone, with appropriate skills, should be in control of the technology they use. Our hypothesis is that, by extension, this control will drive hardware/software manufacturing toward a sustainable local and value-added economic paradigm, in contrast to centralized fabrication geared for artificial profit and unsustainable obsolescence. We aim to prove this hypothesis, in an incremental way, by offering direct and focused applications for agriculture.
Unfortunately, some applications (mostly hardware) will require implementation of closed technology components, but these will be replaced with open source alternatives as they become available.
All software written by Agrineer is licensed under GPL V3.0. All other components in a project are "open source", but there may be some components which prohibit redistribution, in which case you will need to download that code for yourself.
Our business model is unorthodox. We are currently a volunteer operation establishing a value-added business through what would normally be considered a non-profit venue, ie. open-source and educational. The intent, though, is to be a self-sustaining business by providing services and value-added hardware products. Some would say, "putting the .org before the .com".
However, our seed phase funding is based on sources that are non-institutional grants; volunteer, crowd sourcing, and direct sponsors contributions.
Our next phase is to establish commercial viability through hardware products which are complementary to the computational applications. For example, Arduino-based soil moisture probes which calibrate the Soil Moisture Estimator (SME) tool for better local precision; the Soil Moisture Radar (SMR) project would require GPS antennas/systems using the Arduino/RasperryPi soil probes for calibration.
You can write to us at: contact (at) agrineer.org
This wiki's icon is from the Florentine Codex, written in Nahuatl and Spanish in the Mid-16th Century under the supervision of Fray Bernardino de Sahagún. The icon image is the second of three depicting planting, tilling, and harvesting of maize in pre-colombian Mesoamerica.
The practice of planting and tilling with a pointed stick was witnessed four centuries later by Agrineer's science director, as a teenager, hiking with friends in the hills of central Mexico. Encountering a campesino dressed in white linen, sandals, and straw hat on a meager hillside trail, they asked for directions. The farmer, who had a stick and bag of maize seeds, responded kindly but also insisted on proudly showing the "chilangos" how to correctly plant the maize. He demonstrated by poking a hole in the soil with the stick, placing three kernels inside, and covering the hole. (He repeated this several times to make sure they understood.) This method is still practiced today, especially with the symbiotic planting of the "three sisters": maize, bean, and squash.
The icon is reproduced with permission from Arizona State University Hispanic Research Center under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported, and is derived from the Digital Edition of the Florentine Codex created by Gary Francisco Keller, Tempe, Arizona: Bilingual Press, 2008.