A long journey for a small number
March 20, 2019
After more than 5 years of development, I’m pleased to announce that farmOS 1.0 has been released!
What does that mean? In some ways, not much. farmOS is stable, and continues to improve and grow with every iteration. It is already used by hundreds of farms all over the world, and is being deployed in agricultural research projects to help understand how production practices affect soil health, nutrient density, carbon sequestration, and other indicators.
What is significant about this release is that we’ve made some big improvements to the farmOS API, which allows other software systems to communicate with farmOS and push/pull data. This means other ag software developers can build more specialized features using the tools of their choice, while still leveraging the farmOS server as a central database. This is a huge step towards interoperability between different tools - and it keeps the data ownership in the hands of the farmer.
With this release, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at where things started, and what we’ve accomplished along the way.
The first official commits happened in early 2014, with the creation of the farm distribution, along with the log and farm_log modules (but to be fair, the ideas go back even farther than that). I shared it with Dorn Cox and RJ Steinert at Farm Hack, who became the first early adopters and collaborators. Shortly after, I presented on the topics of open source software and hardware at the 2014 CT NOFA Winter Conference, and shared my vision for what we were starting to build. In September 2014, we officially adopted the name “farmOS”, and that winter marked the first commits to the livestock and equipment modules, followed by the sensor module a few months later.
The project and community has developed rapidly since then! There have been over 3000 commits to the farmOS repository, 2 alpha releases, 18 beta releases, 2 release candidates, and over 38,000 downloads from the drupal.org project page. We’ve discussed countless ideas in the form of feature requests, bug reports, and conversations in the chat room and monthly calls, as well as at in-person hackathons and conferences like GOAT: Gathering for Open Agriculture Technology. All of this collaboration has accelerated farmOS’s development, and turned it into a mature platform.
But that’s not all! A number of related projects have been developed to complement and extend farmOS, including add-on modules for holistic grazing, nutrient management, produce safety, beekeeping, mushroom and maple production, weather, and forest management.
Much of this development has been generously supported through partnerships and collaborations with organizations including Wolfe’s Neck Farm, Farm Hack, the Cornell Soil Health Lab, UVM Extension, the Globetrotter Foundation and Paicines Ranch, NRCS, VVBGA, PASA, USFS, NFA, BFA, and Our Sci, and more. And that isn’t even counting all the individual farmers who are using it! We wouldn’t be here without the contributions and support of everyone in the farmOS community.
We’ve got big plans ahead - and a long way to go from here! The last five years have put us on a solid foundation, and I believe the next five will produce even greater things. If you are interested in supporting these efforts, there are lots of ways you can contribute.
Thanks again to everyone who made this possible.