On Wednesday, Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization that seeks to enable mass innovation through open source technology, announced the launch of the AgStack Foundation, the first open source digital infrastructure project designed specifically for the global agriculture ecosystem.
AgStack Foundation will improve global agriculture efficiency through the creation, maintenance and enhancement of free, reusable, open and specialized digital infrastructure for farming data and applications.
Founding members and contributors include leaders from both the technology and agriculture industries, spanning sectors and geographies. Members and partners include Agralogics, Call for Code, Centricity Global, Digital Green, Farm Foundation, farmOS, HPE, IBM, Mixing Bowl & Better Food Ventures, NIAB, OpenTeam, Our Sci, Produce Marketing Association, Purdue University / OATS & Agricultural Informatics Lab, the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC-ANR) and University of California Santa Barbara SmartFarm Project.
“The global agriculture ecosystem desperately needs a digital makeover. There is too much loss of productivity and innovation due to the absence of re-usable tools and data. I’m excited to lead this community of leaders, contributors and members – from across sectors and countries – to help build this common and re-usable resource – AgStack – that will help every stakeholder in global agriculture with free and open digital tools and data,” said Sumer Johal, Executive Director of AgStack.
Linux Foundation noted in its official AgStack announcement on Wednesday that 33 percent of all food produced is wasted, while nine percent of the people in the world are hungry or undernourished. These societal drivers are compounded with legacy technology systems that are too slow and inefficient and can’t work across the growing and more complex agricultural supply chain. AgStack will use collaboration and open source software to build a 21st century digital infrastructure that it says will be a catalyst for innovation on new applications, efficiencies and scale.
“The explosion of agri-tech innovations from large companies to startups to governments to non-profits represents a game changer for farmers in both the Global South and North,” said Rikin Gandhi, Co-founder and Executive Director of AgStack partner Digital Green. “At the same time, it’s critical that we build digital infrastructure that ensures that the impact of these changes enables the aspirations of those most marginalized and builds their resilience, particularly in the midst of climate change.”
AgStack consists of an open repository to create and publish models, free and easy access to public data, interoperable frameworks for cross-project use and topic-specific extensions and toolboxes. It will leverage existing technologies such as agriculture standards (AgGateway, UN-FAO, CAFA, USDA and NASA-AR); public data (Landsat, Sentinel, NOAA and Soilgrids; models (UC-ANR IPM), and open source projects like Hyperledger, Kubernetes, Open Horizon, Postgres, Django and more.
“We’re pleased to provide the forum for AgStack to be built and to grow,” said Mike Dolan, general manager and senior vice president of projects at the Linux Foundation. “It’s clear that by using open source software to standardize the digital infrastructure for agriculture, that AgStack can reduce cost, accelerate integration and enable innovation. It’s amazing to see industries like agriculture use open source principles to innovate.”
The AgStack announcement follows other major funding news in the agtech space this week. On Tuesday, Canadian farm robotics company Precision AI announced that it has successfully closed a $20 million seed round, led by GoogleX co-founder Tom Chi’s At One Ventures, together with BDC Capital’s Industrial Innovation Venture Fund, Fulcrum Global Capital and Golden Opportunities Fund.
Funds will be used to support the advancement of Precision AI’s disruptive precision farming platform that deploys swarms of AI-powered drones to dramatically reduce herbicide use in row crop agriculture.
According to Precision AI, herbicide spraying is one of the least efficient agricultural activities, with over 80 percent wasted on bare ground and another 15 percent falling on the crop. While competitors have focused on high-value, low acreage crops, Precision AI says its technology can be applied to large acreage crops at a much lower cost than traditional large farming machinery, potentially reducing pesticide use by up to 95% while maintaining crop yield and saving farmers up to $52 per acre per growing season.