Stonyfield Organic launched a US$10 million open-source “smart-farming” platform called OpenTEAM in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) LandPKS project and over a dozen partner organizations. They hope to provide farmers and scientists with in-depth knowledge about managing soil health and soil carbon sequestration.
OpenTEAM, which stands for Open Technology Ecosystem for Agricultural Management, is the first open-source platform designed to address soil health and promote climate change mitigation for farms of all sizes. The platform’s founding organizers, which include the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) and Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture & the Environment, hope that it will deliver quantitative feedback on millions of acres of farmland by 2024, helping farmers to sequester more carbon and promote adaptive soil health management on farms.
The platform uses spectral analysis, predictive data, and custom cover cropping techniques to help farmers reduce agricultural carbon emissions, improve soil health, and increase their profits.
“There are a lot of good tools in the space of measuring or modeling greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from farms, and other tools that provide decision support to farmers on how to improve soil health or reduce emissions,” Britt Lundgren, Director of Organic and Sustainable Agriculture at Stonyfield Farm, explains to Food Tank. “But each of these tools only solves a piece of the puzzle. Data collection to use any of these tools is labor-intensive and none of these tools talk to each other, so if you want to move from one tool to the next you need to re-enter all that data.”
OpenTEAM’s open-source ecosystem simplifies data transfer between different parts of the supply chain and streamlines collaboration between farmers and scientists. The platform is also designed to be accessible to farms of all sizes: “a lot of the tools and technologies coming into the market today are targeted at commodity growers and the very largest farms. This leaves a lot of agriculture behind. We wanted to make sure that OpenTEAM was accessible and useful for both small and large producers alike,” Lundgren tells Food Tank.
Use of the free platform can hold additional benefits for farmers. “OpenTEAM will also streamline record-keeping for farms, including the records needed for organic certification,” Lundgren tells Food Tank. And “improved soil health through careful monitoring can lead to higher yields, requires fewer inputs like fertilizer, and increases soil water retention abilities, which can make crops more resilient to climate events.”
“Right now, we have the opportunity to turn agriculture from being a net source of GHG emissions to a net sink, but to do this we need to enlist every farmer around the world in this fight,” Lundgren tells Food Tank.
Image courtesy of the Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment