The Open Agriculture Initiative (OpenAg), an MIT Media Lab project, is working to provide farmers around the world with an open source of information on how to grow tastier crops in increasingly unpredictable climates. Researchers at OpenAg have developed a series of personal food computers, which are different-sized controlled growing environments that collect thousands of data points on the crops growing inside of them. The research is part of OpenAg’s initiative to democratize climate, or make data on farming more accessible.
Droughts, floods, and fluctuating weather patterns are shrinking the breadbaskets of the world, and the World Bank estimates we’ll need to produce 50-percent more food by 2050 to feed a population of 9 billion. OpenAg’s open source system allows farmers to use information researchers have been collecting in the Media Lab in their own fields.
A farmer having trouble producing an optimal crop could use data from OpenAg’s initiative to adjust how that product is grown in the field and yield a better harvest. “The idea is that we’re trying to democratize climate. So if someone wants to be able to grow something in an area where they otherwise would not be able to, they can. And they can do it at a different scale,” said Hildreth England, assistant director at OpenAg.