Technology for Sustainable Farmers – criteria

So if we’re going to dive headfirst into this whole technology thing, then we need to first define what we hope to gain from it. If there aren’t any objective criteria, then we’re kinda setting ourselves up for failure.

First of all, the farms I’m speaking of are small, sustainable farms producing actual edible food in developed countries.  Commodity farmers already have technology tailored to their needs, which are completely different.  Farmers in the developing world also have completely different needs and resources, so these criteria don’t apply to them.

I think that it was Greg Judy who said that there are $10/hour, $100/hour and $1000/hour jobs on any farm.  We spend most of our time doing the $10/hour jobs, and often don’t find time to do the bigger strategic management (the $100 and $1000/hour jobs).

Well, we’re well into the 21st century now, and technology has come far enough that we should be able to reduce the time we spend doing all those $10/hour jobs.

So with that in mind, we can start defining our criteria.  In my humblest of opinions, any new farm technology needs to be:

  •  Cheap – goes without saying.  Nobody wants to spend a fortune on this stuff, it all eats into the bottom line.
  • Adaptable – all our farms are different.  We all have slightly different needs and limitations.
  • Open-Source – sharing our solutions gives us all a better pool of ideas to draw from.
  • Green – re-use or re-purpose the technological detritus that surrounds us.
  • Labor Saving – reduces time spent on menial tasks, centralizes information.


Now on to the good stuff.  What kind of electronic gadgetry can meet all these criteria?  How about Farm-wide Wi-fi, Arduino micro-controllers with Wifly Shields?


And what are the possibilities of these technologies?

Try these on for size:

Wi-Fi Water sensor

Chicken coop door controller (or this one)

Greenhouse controller

How about a night-vision Wi-Fi camera for when you hear a commotion out in the chicken coop at 3am?

Or what about controlling all of this from your smartphone or tablet?

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