GOAT 2020

Currently being re-imagined as a distributed, virtual conference. More soon.

Read More >

GOAT:Hack @ USDA ARS 2019

Mission

  • To bring together a multidisciplinary cohort of researchers, designers, developers, and agricultural practitioners working on public agricultural technologies.
  • To enable open access to data and tools resulting from public agricultural research.
  • To develop open source technical infrastructure that enables research, adoption, and evaluation of sustainable agricultural practices.

We invite members of the Gathering for Open Ag Tech (GOAT), USDA Agricultural Research Service, informatics researchers, research data scientists, and members of the public to come together and build open agricultural technologies that support our continued transition to sustainable solutions.

When: April 4 & 5, 2019
Where: USDA-ARS Beltsville Agricultural Research Center

Background

The Gathering for Open Ag Tech (GOAT) is an ad-hoc gathering of technologists and agriculturalists to collaborate, and create a vision for a fully open agricultural future. GOAT members endeavor to support ag-related organizations (including ARS) trying to solve technical problems while keeping it free and open.

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research agency, where we focus on “finding solutions to agricultural problems that affect Americans every day from field to table.” Within USDA-ARS, the Sustainable Agricultural Systems Lab includes a team of scientists developing technical infrastructure crucial to agricultural research. For example, we are working on farmer-facing decision support tools, designing elements of a data pipeline to enable large-scale participatory research (CROWN project), and geoinformatics tools to improve people’s experience of interfacing with government data, models, tools, and services.

How GOAT:Hack Works

Application

  • Applications closed. You’ll receive an invitation with specific event details.
  • Sign up for the GOAT Forum and post your project and recruit more team members there.
  • For more information contact:
    • Ankita Raturi (USDA ARS): ankita.raturi@ars.usda.gov
    • Brian Davis (USDA ARS & UMD): brianwdavis@gmail.com

Pre-GOAT:Hack

@GOAT:Hack

  • Show up and hack away!
  • Present to the community.

Post-GOAT:Hack

  • Make a plan to continue work with your project partners.
  • Go home happy and accomplished!

Program

Thursday, April 4
9:00 – 11:00 – Introductions, review of hackathon process, project pitches, group formation, timeline formulation.
11:00 – 6:00 – Work on projects!

Friday, April 5
9:00 – 9:30 – Updates/announcements, quick progress and plan of action reports
9:30 – 3:00 – Work on projects and create presentations
3:00 – 4:00 – Final project presentations
4:00 – 5:00 – coordinate next steps and establish collaboration pathways

FAQ

How can I participate?

Submit your application here, describing your interest in agriculture and technology. We will review your application, provide feedback, and if all goes well, send an invitation to participate.

What is the expected time commitment?

You get what you put in. A compelling project will require commitment from all team members. We ask that you aim to commit 100% of your time for these two days to the Hackathon. We understand if people need to take a call, attend a meeting, etc., but you probably won’t be successful unless you dedicate most of everyone’s time to working together!

Example projects:

  • Researchers at ARS are involved in a multi-institutional on-farm research project and currently sense and sample soil moisture, cover crop quantity and quality, nitrogen dynamics, and crop population and yield across over 80 farms. What data collection, aggregation, and visualization tools can we develop or connect to enable the modernization of their existing research data pipeline? What are the key elements of a re-configurable agricultural research data pipeline that need to be developed?
  • There are many use cases for open agricultural technologies that require representation of plants: from farmers picking a crop species to plant and tracking a plant as it transform from seed to maturity to researchers managing large breeding projects. However, many tools utilize their own taxonomies, ontologies, vocabularies, etc. Can we develop a plant data service, including an information architecture, to serve up structured plant data?
  • There is a plethora of open agricultural data available, however, it is difficult to know what is available, where to find it, and how to use it. Several initiatives exist to inventory, archive, or serve up open agricultural data. What contributions can we make to these initiatives, from Data.gov to the National Ag Library’s Ag Data Commons? Are there opportunities to develop domain-appropriate APIs to, for instance, NOAA weather data?

Is this mostly hardware, software, or what?
All of the above, but primarily leaning toward the development of information tools. So everything from: new sensors for on-farm data collection, new ways to visualization resource flows, mechanisms to handle data interoperability, to ways to connect existing open source software to support sustainable agricultural practices.

How do teams work?

You should come with an idea and a team (one or many), but it’s completely ok to switch teams, adjust teams, or even adjust whole ideas once you get here. This is a outcome-focused hackathon – we care only that we make the most compelling stuff for the open-agriculture technology community we possibly can! Here is an example hackathon group formation:

  • Problem owner and/or domain expert
  • Designer and/or architect
  • A couple of developers across the stack
  • Maybe a document writers /slide maker / coordinator

I don’t code — what about me?

It completely depends on your project. The goal here is to create something compelling to the community. It is entirely possible to create a compelling data schema, or build out a compelling front-end design for a common application. While coding certainly helps, it is not required. Though, as stated before, you do need to have an idea coming in!

What if I don’t have a team?

If you want to come but don’t have a team or an idea, you are still welcome to apply! You will either join an existing team or form a new one with others, we will help facilitate. Please note that this is a goal-oriented hackathon – we will not have lots of mentors walking around supporting teams, and a lot of the work will be quite focused.

How do I get there?

In general, if you’re far away, fly into either BWI, DCA, or IAD. If you fly into BWI or IAD you’ll need to get a ride to the Beltsville area or hop between a couple of transit options. There is a direct metro from DCA to the Beltsville area. If you’re within 7 – 8 hour drive just drive – the flight + rental may not be worth it.

Where should I stay and get to/from the GOAT:Hack venue?

We recommend staying in Silver Spring, College Park, or Beltsville itself. Your invitation to participate will include a link to a spreadsheet to coordinate housing and rides, as well as a list of recommended places to stay.

What will I eat?

When you submit your application, please include your food restrictions. We will be supplying breakfast & lunch. We can make recommendations for dinner places on the day!

What should I bring?

Bring whatever you need to work on your project, and anything else you think may come up. Definitely a computer, cords, cables for hardware, cool stickers, the usual. If you have a wireless hotspot, you may want to bring one to deal with the traffic. More info will be in your invitation letter 🙂

What about travel reimbursements?

Sorry, we don’t have reimbursements available at this time, but if you need one to come let us know and we’ll keep an eye out for funding.

Read More >

GOAT:Hack @ Real Food Campaign 2018

The Mission

To create or generate accessible data driven,  location specific tools that help relate to their environment, farm practice, soil health, and food quality.  This may include improving interoperability between existing data streams, creating new data streams, interfaces, analytic, communications, or observation tools.

Background

The Gathering for Open Ag Tech (GOAT) is a ad-hoc gathering of technologists  and agriculture network to collaborate, and create a vision for a fully open agricultural future.  GOAT members endeavor to support ag-related organizations (including the RFC!) trying to solve technical problems while keeping it free as in freedom!

The Real Food Campaign (RFC)  multi-stakeholder collaborative with the goal of increasing the nutrient density of our food supply.  In 2018, the RFC started a nationwide survey of soil and food quality to better understand the connections between farm practice, soil health, and food quality.  In addition, the RFC is developing tools to estimate nutritional parameters in stores and on farms.

The RFC Lab operates the survey which collects food and soil samples from individual farms and stores, and tests them for a suite of nutritional and soil health parameters.

How it Works

  1. Post your idea to the forum – this acts as your application so do it!  It lets us know your coming, gives us and the GOAT community a chance for feedback, and could help you identify additional partners / collaborations.  Your idea should directly address the core mission of the Hackathon (stated above). Ideas may come from a team or an individual, and teams may shift or merge at the conference – that’s completely ok (in fact, we hope they do!).  However, you do need to have a concrete idea when you show up. The purpose is to help teams ensure that the project will excite RFC partners and attendees of the Soil and Nutrition Conference! Not sure about your idea or don’t have one?  Here’s a few examples that may help.
  2. Coordinate with your project partners before the conference.  The final presentations will be directly to conference participants.  While projects do not need to be a functional product / proof of concept, it certainly would help!  So consider doing a little legwork to make your showing the best it can be. If you can’t – don’t sweat it, come as you are 🙂
  3. Sign up for the Soil and Nutrition Conference.  To take part in the Hackathon, you must register for the Soil and Nutrition Conference!  Accommodations are booked separately. Feel free to come to the pre-conference as well if you want!
  4. Show up and hack away!  You will have most of 2 full days to work on your project.  There will be time early on day 1 to get feedback, talk with other participants to see if more collaborations are possible / make sense, and clarify your final product/presentation/pitch.
  5. Present to the community.  At the end of the 2nd day, you will present whatever you have (a mock-up, a product, a proof of concept…) to the participants of the Soil and Nutrition Conference and the Bionutrient Food Association (the organization which runs the conference).  The attendees and the BFA will vote directly with their wallets to support projects which they find most compelling, up to a maximum of $1000 per project.  Projects are not competing with each other, but instead trying to most effectively engage the needs/interest of the audience.  In addition, many prominent ag-related organizations will be present to view the final projects and may consider ongoing support.
  6. Go home happy, accomplished, and tired 🙂

Prizes

All projects will be presented to the participants of the Soil and Nutrition Conference and the Bionutrient Food Association (the organization which runs the conference).  The attendees and the BFA will vote directly with their wallets to support projects which they find most compelling, up to a maximum of $1000 per project. Projects are not competing with each other, but instead trying to most effectively engage the needs/interest of the audience. In addition, many prominent ag-related organizations will be present to view the final projects and may consider ongoing support.

Program

The RFC Hackathon will run concurrently with the Soil and Nutrition Conference, at the Southbridge Hotel and Conference Center in Southbridge MA.  To take part in the Hackathon, you must register for the Soil and Nutrition Conference!

Dec. 1, Saturday

9:00 – 10:30 – introductions, description of the RFC, and review of hackathon process.

10:00 – 5:00 – work on projects!

Dec. 2, Sunday

9:00 –  10:30 – (optional) walk through of existing ag-related platforms

10:30 – 3:30 – work on projects!

3:30 – 5:00 – final project presentations to Soil and Nutrition Conference participants.

FAQ

Can you provide some example projects?
Sure, here’s a few ranging from doable in 2 days to doable in 20 years:

  1. The RFC currently collects soil and food samples from farms.  We propose to create an API so that RFC data collection software can call a free historical weather API to include daily rain and sun information to their sample meta-data.  This will help contextualize the quality of the plant, and therefore reduce error when identifying correlations between food quality and soil health.
  2. We want to create a web-connected soil penetrometer for simultaneous compaction and soil moisture readings.
  3. We want to build a smartphone app which better engages the RFC community by delivering nutritional information about products in real time which pulls from the RFC Labs database.
  4. We want to build the ultimate ‘tricorder’ handheld sensor which will contain enough data to provide detailed, accurate outputs of food quality in real time!  We don’t know exactly how we’ll do it, but have clever ideas for integrating existing technologies and, with some reasonable assumptions about decreased costs of tech in the future, when this may be feasible.
  5. We want to connect our farm management platform to the RFC Lab so that our user base can submit food and soil samples with highly granular on-farm data.
  6. We want to solve a user experience problem in collecting on-farm data – to make it easy for farmers to collect significant amounts of data without data fatigue, and to do so in a comparable, consistent way across farms.

Can I attend?
Anyone can attend but YOU MUST submit your idea to the forum and receive feedback and sign up for the Soil and Nutrition Conference (these are required!).

What is the expected time commitment?
If you intend to present a compelling project/idea/etc, you will need all the time you can get. At least one member of your team should plan to commit 100% of the conference time to the Hackathon. We understand if people want to go to a workshop or meeting, but you probably won’t be successful unless you dedicate all of one person and most of everyone else’s time to hacking at the conference.

How do I get there?
In general, if you’re far away, fly into boston and rent a car or take the bus (https://www.rome2rio.com/s/Boston/Southbridge).  If you’re within 7 – 8 hour drive just drive – the flight + rental isn’t really worth it.  The conference website has more info: https://soilandnutrition.org/lodging-and-meals/.

What should I bring?
Bring whatever you need to work on your project, and anything else you think may come up.  Definitely computer, cords, cables for hardware, cool stickers, the usual.

Is this mostly hardware, software, or what?
All of the above.  A new sensor or unique physical device which enhances data relating soil health to food nutrition would be great.  Also, connecting two platforms so they can share data, thereby allowing users to better track farm management with soil health would also be great. On net there probably is a bias towards improving interoperability between existing platforms / hardware, but don’t let that limit you.

How does registration work?
If you submit your idea and get positive feedback, sign up for the conference, and show up, you’re in!

What will I eat?
When you sign up for the conference + hotel meals are included unless you choose to get them a la cart (details here: https://soilandnutrition.org/lodging-and-meals/).

How do teams work?
You should come with an idea and a team (one or many), but it’s completely ok to switch teams, adjust teams, or even adjust whole ideas once you get here.  This is a outcome-focused hackathon – we care only that we make the most compelling stuff for the RFC community we possibly can!

What about travel reimbursements?
Sorry, we don’t have reimbursements available, though you can email the conference organizers to put in a request.

I don’t code — what about me?
It completely depends on your project.  The goal here is to create something compelling to the community… it is entirely possible to create a compelling data schema, or build out a compelling front-end design for a common application.  While coding certainly helps, it is not required… though, as stated before, you do need to have an idea coming in!

What if I don’t have a team?
If you want to come but don’t have a team or an idea, you are still welcome!  It is possible (though in no way guaranteed) you could join an existing team. But note that this is a goal-oriented hackathon – we will not have lots of mentors walking around supporting teams, and a lot of the work will be quite focused (there will be a few mentors, but not lots).  So you may learn something by osmosis, but you may also want to go to conference sessions while the projects are furiously and silently coding away.

Read More >

GOAT 2018 Program

Session types

  • Pre-arranged unconference sessions
  • Workshops that require pre-conference planning/coordination (stuff, prepayment for supplies, etc.)
  • Lightning talks
  • Unconference sessions times may use up to 3 simultaneous sessions (3 rooms, ~20 people per room avg)

Note: All meals will be provided by Omega Institute

Pre-Conference (Sunday):
Sunday ~noon – Organizer Check-in
16:00 – 18:00 – Conference Registration
~19:00 Dinner at Omega

Day 1 (Monday):
08:00 – 09:00 – Breakfast
9:30 – 10:00 – Introduction to conference
10:00 – 11:30 – Speed Meeting
11:30 – 12:00 – Setting the Tone session I
12:00 – 12:30 – Lunch
12:30 – 14:15 – Show & Tell
14:15 – 15:30 – Unconference explanation
– 10 minute break –
15:40 – 16:50 – Unconference session
16:50 – 17:30 – Q&A, Open Discussion
17:30 – 19:00 – (optional) Evening activity
Dinner

Day 2 (Tuesday):
08:00 – 09:00 – Breakfast
09:00 – 09:30 – Setting the Tone Session II
09:30 – 10:40 – Unconference session
– 10 minute break –
10:50 – 12:00 – Unconference session
12:00 – 13:00 – Lunch
13:00 – 14:10 – Unconference session
– 10 minute break –
14:20 – 15:30 – Unconference session
– 10 minute break –
15:40 – 16:50 – Unconference session
16:50 – 17:30 – Q&A, Open Discussion
17:30 – 19:00 – (optional) Evening activity
Dinner

Day 3 (Wednesday):
08:00 – 09:00 – Breakfast
09:00 – 09:30 – Setting the Tone Session III
09:30 – 10:40 – Unconference session
– 10 minute break –
10:50 – 12:00 – Unconference session
12:00 – 13:00 – Lunch
13:00 – 14:10 – Unconference sessions
– 10 minute break –
14:20 – 15:30 – Unconference sessions
15:30 → 17:00 – How do we move forward?
17:00 → 17:30 – Q&A, Open Discussion, thank you’s and goodbyes
Dinner

NOTE – make sure we know if you are staying Wednesday night – there are limited rooms available.

Social Media

Yes please! Post content (images, text, etc.) to your favorite social media with the following hashtag: #goatech2018 @goatech_org

If you take pictures and don’t mind us using them, please let us know!

Unconference

Unconference is a new experience for some. Please check out some guidelines for how it works and how to prepare here: http://unconference.net/unconferencing-how-to-prepare-to-attend-an-unconference/

Documentation and Discussion

To initiate a discussion, go create a post on the forum at forum.goatech.org. This helps documents all the smart things the GOAT community has to say, and helps make new folks get up to speed quick.

We also have a RIOT channel at for more instantaneous or quick group messaging. Come by and say hi, there’s usually a few of us hanging out in there 🙂

Code of Conduct

We have a code of conduct shamelessly stolen from GOSH. Please read it here: http://openhardware.science/gosh-2017/gosh-code-of-conduct/

We also have a point of contact for violations of the code of conduct. If you feel there has been a violation, want to discuss the rules, or have concerns you don’t feel discussing in public, you can contact the CoC person: Dorn or Ankita.

Organizer points of contact

Much of the conference work will be powered by GOAT participants themselves. If you are volunteering, you can find a point of contact for you work. If you have any other questions/concerns, hopefully it fits into one of the below categories. If you’re not sure, identify an organizer and they’ll help you find the right person to talk to.

Facilitation – Greg Austic
Documentation – Ankita Raturi
Registration – Chris Rowe
Tech Support – Michael Stenta

a poem by leunig about going home to ponder.
Read More >

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.

Read More >