“Hey guys — I’m not a techie, but I keep track of all of my farm visits and application of fertilizers and pesticides using OneNotes .. let me show you on my iPhone .. “, with that Justin Butra had us hooked on working with him at the first ever AppsForAg AgTech hackathon (in the world?) hosted at West Hills Community College in Coalinga, CA.
Justin is what they called a “grower” at this event. His life is immersed in agriculture. He advises hundreds of farm owners about managing nutrients and fertilizer, about pesticides, about irrigation. Each hackathon team needed to have a grower. We were lucky to have Justin (actually 2 Justin’s – Mr Dutra the “grower” and Mr Bowen the “hacker extraordinaire”)
He also managed scope creep: “of course we could do a lot of things – but let’s focus on 1 crop (Almond), and 1 nutrient (Nitrogen, the most important, and also most difficult to manage well)”
And we gave our team a name — The Almond Brothers!
Our app NuTreeSource would do smart budgeting and tracking of how much nitrogen to apply to Almond crops to maximize yield (and reduce groundwater consumption – every bit counts in these days of drought in California)
And we would do it all within a span of 24 hours. This is what it looked like:
And on Sunday 11:30 – we submitted our app and our presentation. There were 6 other great teams along with us who presented. They were all great, and we learned so much from each one of them, almost in awe of how well everyone knew the space, and their innovative approaches to each problem.
We are happy to report that we received the third place award. And more importantly, we received valuable feedback on how to improve our app, which we certainly intend to.
Above all, what a great experience – to go in on a Friday evening (after 4.5 hours of driving through heavy traffic from San Francisco), and by Sunday, come up with not only application ideas vetted by a (committed) user group of growers, but also a working prototype that we can improve upon.
The smiles in this group picture tell it all. Thanks everyone!