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Agritech firm releases open-source water monitor built on Raspberry Pi

07 Sep 2018

Agritech firm Autogrow is committing to open source for its new root zone monitor as it takes part in an open collaboration platform.

The company built its OpenMinder root zone monitor as an open-source DIY project targeted to technology developers and for application with small growers.

The platform uses an open-source API in conjunction with a Raspberry Pi HAT and is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license.

Autogrow also designed the monitor so that anyone could built it themselves – and to show that the industry can succeed in open collaboration, APIs, and water sustainability.

Autogrow CEO Darryn Keiller says that governments and legislators around the world are becoming more stringent about water usage and runoff, so growers need to use every tool they can to grow sustainably and have the data to back it up.

“Essentially we are giving away water management technology. There are very few people who understand how to design and build these technologies and, for someone motivated enough, we are providing the hardware schematics and source code to do it,” Keiller says.

Autogrow is championing OpenMinder and other products with APIS as the future of the industry.

Tech-savvy growers will demand that suppliers work together and provide tools that can integrate seamlessly, while providing exactly what growers want, the company states.

“When I first began shaping the new vision for Autogrow one key realisation was to embrace the idea of open collaboration, and this was because the entire tech sector that supported indoor and controlled environment growing was built on closed and proprietary technologies,” says Keiller.

“Fundamentally, that behaviour is a roadblock to accelerating growers and producers’ rapid adoption of new and beneficial technologies. Having polite discussions isn’t changing anything. Robert Stallman, GNU and Linus Torvalds with Linux changed the way that all commercial operating systems got developed by breaking the stranglehold of UNIX, which was dominated by Sun, DEC and IBM. We are doing the same for agriculture.”

Keiller adds that OpenMinder is a good fit for funding and manufacture, particularly in countries whose farmers need a subsidised or free, water run-off or irrigation monitoring system.

“And from an education perspective, there are high schools all around the U.S. and in other countries introducing classes on hydroponic systems. OpenMinder gives them a practical build they can do,” Keiller concludes.

Autogrow's global office is based in Auckland. It also has an office in the United States. It provides software and data solutions for growers and resellers in more than 40 countries.

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