Exploring the potential of open-source precision farming

Key points

    The current state of farming

    What is open-source precision farming

    What challenges it will solve

By Carlos Miskinis
Blog Writter
Apr 2019

From a sustainability standpoint, agriculture is the world’s most important industry as it supplies the global population with food resources.


However, from a standpoint of modernization, it is arguably the most “stubborn” sector out there and this is easy to see because it’s going through some growing pains in terms of technology adoption. If and when you think this through, this fact sounds quite alarming because our global society is changing faster than ever before and the population is rising. Because of this, the developing world is consuming more food, which directly causes us to physically run out of resources and space. In a 2012 report by the World Wildlife Fund, they state that humanity must now produce more food in the next four decades than in the last eight thousand years of agriculture combined. Moreover, we must meet this requirement in a sustainable fashion. That’s a monumental challenge that we’re facing – especially when the farming industry is reluctant to adopt innovations. Here at Challenge Advisory, we’ve realized that in our race to adapt and feed the world, two major farming paradigms have come to dominate the landscape. In this article, we want to tell you about them and talk about a plausible solution for all of this.


Explaining the 2 current branches of farming inferior to open-source precision agriculture


First of all, let’s start with the first paradigm – describing the current status quo. In the vast majority of small local farms, we have what’s called a “poly crop” – a system where multiple types of plants are grown in the same area, mutually benefiting each other as well as the soil. It’s a great system that manages to sustain itself without the use of pesticides. For example, imagine a small backyard garden that a part-time professional grower takes care of. Let’s suppose it has fruit trees, sunflowers, broccoli, kale, and spinach all working together. In simple terms, it’s an ecosystem at work and it’s very biologically efficient. Moreover, because of the way the farm is built, you don’t have to add fertilizer or pesticides to make it function properly. However, the poly crop approach to farming is very labor intensive. It takes a lot of time to make a garden like that work and on a commercial scale, less and less people want to do manual labor as a profession now.


On the other end of the spectrum, the second paradigm comes directly from the industrial revolution in agriculture. It’s called the mono crop. It’s a farming approach that has reduced the ecosystem down to a single plant type so that machines such as tractors could tend to all of these plants in the same fashion. From a mechanical efficiency standpoint and an automation standpoint – this is great. Why is that? Well, because very few people are capable of growing tremendous amounts of food. However, it’s a system that requires fertilizers and pesticides just to sustain itself because it doesn’t have other types of plants to rely on. Pesticides and fertilizers are very damaging to the environment and also the food itself.

Part 2

Explaining how open-source precision farming works

Growing more crops in tighter compartments without jeopardizing quality is one of the benefits of precision ag

Emphasizing the uniqueness of open-source precision farming


The third paradigm of farming is a hybrid of the other two paradigms we have described above and it’s called Open-Source Precision Farming. It’s simply a technology (that can entail machinery and equipment) that combines the best of both worlds by setting the generic heavy machinery aside and using innovation to re-engineer the backbone of food production. Using this methodology, we will open up doors to improve efficiency and change the game of what is possible in agriculture. With open-source farming, plants don’t have to be grown in rows. We could plant them in denser, more space efficient arrangements. Moreover, the problem of soil compaction will be non-existent as the weight of the machine is placed completely on the tracks that were built to make precision AgTech move. This way, farming is done smarter using data and ingenuity. From weather reports and sensors to driving most of the operations by using low-cost electronics and fabrication, open-source precision farming technology could be produced in markets that cannot afford modern AgTech, making it an affordable solution capable of maximizing sustainability on a global scale.


Open-source farming is still maturing as it is one of the youngest concepts in agriculture technology out there. However, it is more than capable of solving challenges as large as reinventing food production needs to suit our growing demands and ensuring future sustainability for upcoming generations.

More information