OpenFarm

Discussion in 'Computers & IT' started by sy247, Apr 14, 2019.

  1. sy247

    sy247 New Member

    Location:
    Norwich
    We are building an open source farm management platform called OpenFarm. The platform will be free to use and the source code will be available under the GNU General Public License.

    We are initially developing a platform with features for arable and livestock management and plan to add features in the future for precision agriculture. We also plan on developing products to create a 'connected farm' from low cost computer hardware such as Raspberry Pi. This will enable sensors and other IoT devices to provide inputs to the platform.

    The platform can either be cloud hosted or run on premise and you will have complete control of your own data. Data will be encrypted, both in transit and at rest. Installation will operate in a similar way to setting up a Wordpress website for example. The cloud hosted option will be very simple, you just create an account. If you wish to host it on premise there will be some basic installation steps to follow.

    We have looked at existing products on the market and have planned an initial feature set. If there are any features anyone would particularly like to see implemented please let me know. We will create integration with Xero. We would welcome suggestions for features required for harvest and also reports that the platform can provide.

    Thanks,

    Simon
     
  2. sjt01

    sjt01 Member

    Location:
    North Norfolk
    I would like to move from Gatekeeper, but with over 20 year's worth of soil and cropping data would have to be able to import this from Gatekeeper.
     
  3. sy247

    sy247 New Member

    Location:
    Norwich
    Does Gatekeeper provide the ability to export data? To CSV file for instance?
     
  4. Still Farming

    Still Farming Member

    Location:
    Glamorgan Wales
    Any MTD HMRC compliant vat and tax apps in pipeline?
     
  5. sy247

    sy247 New Member

    Location:
    Norwich
    Most accountants seem to be going to the Xero route these days, we will offer Xero integration
     
  6. Clive

    Clive Staff Member

    Location:
    Lichfield
    You need gatekeeper import and xero compatibility for starters

    This is something I have done a lot of work on in the past as forum members have asked many times if TFF could do something,

    I’m a long term gatekeeper user desperate for credible cloud based alternative

    Have followed several very promising roads to achieving this but so far nothing solid has ever come of it or cost has got in the way

    it might be worth us having a chat if you are going to do this ? Probably quite a lot we can do to help
     
    Alistair Nelson likes this.
  7. sy247

    sy247 New Member

    Location:
    Norwich
    If we could have a chat that would be very much appreciated. I will send you a message. Thanks
     
    Clive and Alistair Nelson like this.
  8. sjt01

    sjt01 Member

    Location:
    North Norfolk
    Yes, .xls, .pdf and html
     
  9. sy247

    sy247 New Member

    Location:
    Norwich
    Thanks sjt01, we will include an import from XLS file
     
  10. Boysground

    Boysground Member

    Location:
    Wiltshire
    It’s the free to use bit that puts me off. You are trying to develop some software that will complete with gatekeeper. That is a massive ask full crop records NVZ etc and then precision farming applications. It will also be livestock friendly. I use uniform agri which is probably as complex as gatekeeper. It’s linked with the parlour giving individual cow yields every day and lifetime health records Full integration for passports,milk recording and it produces a massive amount of data. Then a link with Xero to be functional with accounts.

    I really don’t understand how software this functional can be created with no cost to the end user.

    I am not saying it can’t happen but interested in how it can be produced, sold for free, supported and the developer make a living.

    Bg
     
  11. Clive

    Clive Staff Member

    Location:
    Lichfield

    there are a lot of massively successful open source projects so its is possible
     
  12. Boysground

    Boysground Member

    Location:
    Wiltshire
    I used to use open office so I know it works, I am just more intrigued as to how it is financially viable to produce something so complex for nothing.

    BG
     
  13. Clive

    Clive Staff Member

    Location:
    Lichfield
  14. Boysground

    Boysground Member

    Location:
    Wiltshire
    Clive likes this.
  15. sy247

    sy247 New Member

    Location:
    Norwich
    That's a great question Boysground. Let me explain a bit about myself and my partner who I am working on the project with. I have been working in IT for nearly 20 years, I am a freelance IT consultant, I work as a solution / infrastructure architect delivering End User Computing solutions, usually for large companies.

    My LinkedIn profile is here:
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/simonnorman

    I am Norfolk born and bred and passionate about the countryside. When I am not sitting behind a computer one of my interests is shooting, which has brought me into contact with farmers over the last decade or so. I have been working as a freelance contractor in essentially the same field for 15 years and am looking to diversify into new technology and business areas.

    I met Raj, my partner in the project in a chance meeting around 18 months ago. Raj is a talented developer who is passionate about Open Source software and the ethos that goes with it. He is very active in the Drupal community (Drupal is a web hosting and web application development framework). I was impressed with how generous he was with his skills and time in giving back to the Drupal community by writing modules and solving other people’s problems. Since we met, we have been thinking about how we can combine our skills and develop a product in a niche area which has potential for growth.

    Raj comes from a rural area in India where farming is low tech. His family have a farming background and he has been thinking for some time about how software can improve efficiency and increase yields. He suggested the idea to me and after researching the market in the UK we realised that there is demand for a modern platform. We also recognise that over the next 5 – 10 years the Internet of Things (IoT) is going to develop significantly. That offers potential to create a very powerful system that combined with artificial intelligence and possibly machine learning could make predications based on a wide range of environmental inputs. That is something we find exciting. The UK Government have an agritech strategy that we would like to align ourselves with and be part of initiates like Agri-Tech East once we have developed a viable product. We believe there is a global opportunity for the right agriculture platform with potential growth in both developing and developed countries.

    Raj’s LinkedIn profile is here:
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/drupler/

    I would like to answer your question about how it is possible to create a complex product when there is no license fee to use it. Essentially the way this is done is to charge for services related to the product, but to not charge for the actual product itself. Anyone is free to take the source code under the Open Source model and develop it, providing it is released under the same Open Source license. As an example, many companies use Linux as a server operating system to host systems on, Linux is free to use but many companies provide support and development services which are chargeable. Many websites are hosted on Apache web server, this is an Open Source product. Drupal, the framework that Raj specialises in, and the framework that we are using to develop Open Farm is used by many well known organisations:

    https://www.drupal.org/case-studies

    In terms of the cost for services associated with OpenFarm we are still in the early stages of the project have not thought about it in detail. As a company we will maintain an Open Source product that anyone can download and install. You could either install it on your own computer or you could install it in the cloud if you wanted to manage it yourself. If a customer wanted us to host it for them (once we have developed a viable product) that is something we would charge to do. The hosting will be low cost, we want to provide an affordable service that will be attractive to farmers. We would provide free community support on a best endeavours basis, if a customer wanted support with a service level agreement, we would charge to provide it. We will take suggestions for features to develop and incorporate them into product releases but if a customer wanted specific functionality that was not on the product roadmap, we would charge to develop it. Because the source code will be freely available any company (or individual) could develop functionality for the platform, not just us. This model creates an ecosystem around the platform which is very powerful. There is a good overview of Open Source software here:

    https://opensource.com/resources/what-open-source

    In the early stages of the project while we are developing the platform, we would provide free hosting for anyone who wants to use it. We want to build a user base and give something back to people who are giving up their time to help develop it. The cost for us to host a small platform are not high. We have started building the database part of the platform but not the front end user interface (web) part yet. Raj has friends in India who are helping with development and we plan to expand the team as the project gathers momentum. We appreciate it is a complex project with many requirements to make it a viable alternative to existing commercial products in both arable and livestock farming. We view it as a long term project and it will not happen overnight. We will build an initial product and add features with subsequent releases. We understand technology but are not farmers which is why to work it needs to be a collaborative effort. We very much appreciate the positive feedback and interest that has been received so far.

    Thanks,

    Simon & Raj
     
  16. sjt01

    sjt01 Member

    Location:
    North Norfolk
    If you wanted to come and see our Gatekeeper installation and our frustrations, we are not far from you. PM me if interested
     
  17. nelson.h

    nelson.h Member

    @sjt01 I'm interested in doing something similar, if you still have time I'd love to take upon this offer!

    @sy247 I really hope you succeed. If you do, and I'm still in this sector, I would likely contribute :). But it doesn't seem easy to succeed. Is OSS something you tested to be desired and a differentiating feature for most farmers? I can understand the appeal to a sub-segment that is more tech savy (or is generally able to use this for free, but those aren't part of your business model I guess), but I presume that's a small segment as the total industry isn't huge to begin with.
     

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