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NuTreeSource by Team Almond Brothers: 3rd Place award @ #AppsForAg Hackathon

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“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”)

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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:

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Team Almond Brothers hard at work

 

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Justin Dutra (Grower) and Sandeep Giri (representing Developer) posing in front of their masterpiece – whiteboard specs and mockups for NuTreeSource app

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.

Team Almond Brothers receiving their 3rd place award for NuTreeSource

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!

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2 thoughts on “NuTreeSource by Team Almond Brothers: 3rd Place award @ #AppsForAg Hackathon”

    1. Patrick – we are glad we made the trip, and thanks for all your support. We have been making steady progress on the app after the hackathon, and I’ll be more than happy to sit down with your client to provide an update.

      This is essentially an iOS app designed to improve productivity for growers and crop consultants in the field, specifically for managing nutrient applications. Users can select from a list of farms they manage, choose a particular field and the crop for the season, and set a yield goal. The app then recommends NPK applications for the season (along with a schedule) based on UC guidelines or your own custom model based on past observations. After that, users can track each fertilizer application (while at the field), and keep a running tally of what’s been applied and the balance. App also allows you to take notes while in the field (or at the back office), enter lab results on soil or tissue samples, soil condition, water level, etc. — all this is stored in an easily searchable database that the user can bring up on their phone or tablet whenever they want, instead of having to go back to the office and search through binders or emails.

      Anyway, we are pretty excited about it — and would love to partner up with an initial set of growers and crop consultants in a beta program. Let me know if your clients will be interested.

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