Do you want to help save the world? The GROW agri-hackathon aims to bring together smart-thinking people from various backgrounds who are interested in tackling some of agriculture’s biggest challenges. They will be supported by industry experts and given unprecedented access to some of the most comprehensive datasets available to model and test their solutions.
It is taking place over the weekend of 6-7 July in Cambridge – with an initial networking reception on 5th July – and is free to enter.
Agri-Tech East Director Belinda Clarke talked about the hackathon in an interview with Cambridge 105.
The event, organised by Agri-Tech East, hosted by Allia Future Business Centre and supported by Barclays Eagle Labs, BASF and WWF-UK, welcomes people from all disciplines – including software developers, electronics engineers, plant and animal biologists, physicists, farmers, vets, students and industry professionals.
The theme for the GROW agri-hackathon event is ’48 hours to save the world’ . Industry mentors will provide background and support to help teams cover issues such as:
Enhancing Soils Health: Soils are an incredibly valuable asset for farmers, but threats to soil health are ever increasing and we all need to play our part in order to protect them. Farmers already use a range of techniques to monitor and improve soil health. The challenge is to develop a solution that enables farmers to understand their soil health, and highlight opportunities to make improvements.
Improving Water Use Efficiency: Managing water is a big challenge for global agriculture. Smart precision irrigation, or effective means of improving the ability of soils to hold water are poised to revolutionise the industry. Access to the right amount of water at the right time in the growing season is key. The challenge is to develop a solution that enables farmers to manage their water resources more effectively and in a timely way where it is needed most.
Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Intensive livestock rearing is contributing to methane production, whilst degradation of peat soils and other carbon sinks have reduced opportunities to sequester carbon, but there could be opportunities to create other carbon sinks and manage GHG emissions. The challenge is to develop a solution to monitor, and possibly mitigate the impact of greenhouse gas emissions from cattle, agricultural machinery and/or manufacture of artificial fertilisers.
Boosting biodiversity: Boosting biodiversity also boost crop yields, the health of livestock and soils, and protects important – sometimes rare – habitats for plants, pollinators and microbes as well as delivering other ecosystem services to agriculture. The challenge is to develop a solution using smart ways of measuring, monitoring and enhancing farm-based biodiversity using targeted resources.
Hardware supplied will include: Raspberry pis (3b+ and Zero), Arduino (Nano, Uno and Mega), Servo and Stepper motors, a multitude of sensors and switches, voltmeters and solder kits, as well as 3D printers (Ulitmaker 2+ and 3), RF generator, oscilloscope, Lora Hub and much more!
Data providers include:
Rothamsted Research is the world’s oldest agricultural field station, offering unparalleled access to unique data sets that are relevant across all the hackathon themes.
1. Nutrient losses: data from the Classical Experiments (175 years) including nutrient inputs, soil nutrient content and crop nutrient content. This allows losses to be calculated for a wide range of management and nutrient conditions including organic vs inorganic.
2. Livestock production: data from the North Wyke Farm includes data on everything that goes into and out of a livestock farm.
3. Reducing greenhouse gases: Soil contains more carbon than plants (including forests) and atmosphere combined and therefore makes a substantial contribution to regulating global climate. The data includes management, inputs and soil carbon stocks over time and when combined with soil moisture sensors and gas sensors could give a real-time measure of soil health.
4. Biodiversity: the Park Grass Experiment has been running for 170 years and shows how biodiversity in permanent hay meadows changes with time and management. There is also weather and insect data over the same period and more recent information on worms.
Wroot Water is a specialist irrigation company that provides smart water solutions. It provides wireless control systems, energy saving water pumping systems and will be bringing its Solem™ control system, soil moisture probes and an air temperature probe.
Prodata Weather Systems is a specialist supplier of weather-monitoring equipment and creator of the global Davis knowledgebase. Hackers will have unprecedented access to a block of data from weather sensors in Cambridgeshire containing standard weather parameters (wind, temp & humidity, pressure, rainfall) measured at 5 minute intervals for March 2019.
Agrimetrics is one of the UK’s Centres for Agricultural Innovation. Agrimetrics has made its Field Explorer™ product available for the hackathon participants, allowing access to data on weather, cropping and soil for all 1 or 1.45 million fields in the UK. They can use this field information to enrich other data and model against a number of weather factors including rainfall, soil pH, carbon content or bacteria biodiversity to name but a few – all within field boundaries.
The hackathon is to take place at the Future Business Centre in Cambridge from 6-7th July 2019 inclusive – some people choose to work through the night and food will be available for you to grab as you go.
There will be an optional networking reception on 5th July where industry experts will frame the challenges and participants will get to meet each other. A full briefing will be given on Saturday.
Teams will be provided with access to a Tech Pantry of hardware and data made available by Agri-Tech East members to make use of over the weekend.
The weekend will culminate in pitches of the resulting ideas on the Sunday, judged by a panel of experts.
Prizes: Amazon vouchers for the all members of the winning teams and £1,000 in RS vouchers for the overall winning hackathon team to further develop their ideas, plus ongoing mentoring, business support and introductions.
Free to enter
The event is free to enter but participants will need to register in advance and book a place here.
6-7th July Allia Future Business Centre Cambridge, Kings Hedges Road, Cambridge, CB4 2HY