About GOAT

The technologies that produce our food and the data about our food system should be public, and enable control by the farms and farmers that produce it. Together, we can collectively address the problems which prevent the creation of advanced, high quality open technology and its adoption.

Problem

Information about our food system should be public or easy-to-share. Unfortunately, that is often not the case. Food is currently produced by a mix of private and public entities, and information about our food system can be opaque, hard-to-find, or proprietary and farmers may have limited control of the on-farm data they generate or ability to improve the tools they use.

Agricultural startups are often venture-funded, with interest veering toward capitalizing on farm data. Controlling such data, not just machines or sensors, is considered the most valuable game in town (at least in the short term). Closed data ecosystems hinder our ability to produce food equitably and sustainably and support farm level decision support.

Fortunately, there is also significant interest in creating open source hardware and software to increase transparency in the food chain, allow for data sharing among groups, and engage the public and make the benefits of shared data available to all. Though the number of projects is growing, they tend to be small, isolated within universities or small companies, and disconnected from one another. The result is duplication of efforts, hard to find projects, and disconnected parts producing incompatible data. The lack of coordination means that as technology rapidly changes, closed-source companies are locking up the machinery, sensors, data, and varieties of the future.

The Goals of GOAT

Coordinate existing development – there are many organizations working on open ag software and hardware today with overlapping interests. Let’s get together! Let’s talk about building software together BEFORE we spend time and money, not after!

Invite new development – Let’s make a place where newcomers can easily find developers and users with overlapping experiences. People evaluating open vs closed ag software/hardware should find a thriving, engaged community which can make their work easier, faster, and better.

Aligning technology and actual users – Finding people to try, test, break, and give feedback on new technology is hard but critically important to making technology relevant and useful. By bringing users and developers together with open lines of communication, we can increase the utility of open technology in ag across the board.

Creating a GOAT Roadmap – If we collectively have a plan, then we can all contribute more effectively. Let’s reduce duplication of efforts, focus on common areas we all need, and put the effort of contributors into a broader context for funders so they can see the big picture.

GOAT 2018

GOAT 2018 is a 3 day gathering of diverse developers and users of open ag technology. APPLY HERE!

“The term goat rodeo refers to a chaotic event where many things must go right for the situation to work, a reference to the unusual and challenging aspects of blending classical and bluegrass music. Yo-Yo Ma described a goat rodeo, saying: ‘If there were forks in the road and each time there was a fork, the right decision was made, then you get to a goat rodeo.”

[4] — Yo-Yo Ma, on The Goat Rodeo Sessions

Why?

For the motivations behind GOAT, see the About GOAT page.

The inaugural 2018 gathering will bring together the nascent open ag tech community to meet, learn, share, and establish a common vision for creating open technologies for our food system.

When?

Applications close – March 28, 2018
Full program available – March 31, 2018
Conference – Mon – Wed, May 7 – May 9th, 2018

Where?

The 2018 conference will be held at the beautiful Omega Institute, an hour and a half train ride north of New York City. Arrive via NYC airports and take the train or rent a car, or it is within driving distance of most of North East.

The Omega Institute
150 Lake Dr
Rhinebeck, NY 12572

Picture of the Omega Institute

Who should apply?

We are looking for anyone actively involved in developing and using open technologies in agriculture. Specifically, we are looking for developers (programmers, engineers, designers, etc.) and active users (practitioners, farmers, researchers, etc.) of technology. Technology is broadly defined, and includes both traditional hardware and software, but also mechanical tools (tractors, implements, etc.) and any domains relating to the creation of that hardware (intellectual property + open licenses, data management, model development, etc.)

While we are accepting applications from outside North America, we cannot provide extensive support for complex visa applications. Be aware that you are responsible for paperwork related to getting to the US if accepted. We hope to make the conference more international in the future as we have more organizers and more funding.

What is the cost?

The conference itself is free if your application is accepted. We have funding for travel and lodging for those who cannot afford it. Specify your funding needs on the application form.

Can I get involved before the conference?

Yes! Go to the forum at forum.goatech.org and post your questions. You can also find discussions around GOAT and related groups in the open ag space, so definitely check it out.

If you have ideas or suggestions on programming (speakers, activities, nearby locations to visit, etc.) that you think are a great fit, please post about it! We are still actively setting the program and activities.

Who is organizing GOAT 2018?

The organizing committee for GOAT 2018 is:

Ankita Raturi, USDA Agricultural Research Service & North Carolina State University
Chris Rowe, Life Cycle Learning
Dan Kittredge, Bionutrient Food Association
David Forster, Bionutrient Food Association
Don Blair, Edge Collective
Dorn Cox, Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment
Greg Austic, Our Sci
Michael Stenta, farmOS

The Bionutrient Food Association is our primary sponsor, providing funding for the conference, as well as travel as needed. The Omega Institute is providing in-kind sponsorship in the for of both accommodation and meals. If you are interested in supporting or sponsoring GOAT 2018, please contact: goatech.org@gmail.com.

News

Baa!

Exciting times ahead folks. We are now a gathering of approximately 50 people, all gearing up for the inaugural GOATCON from May 7-9, 2018. More soon!