This October, we are celebrating OpenTEAM’s second anniversary! Open Technology Ecosystem for Agricultural Management was founded in 2019, by Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment, Stonyfield, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, and the United States Department of Agriculture’s LandPKS. Based here at the farm, OpenTEAM is a farmer-driven, collaborative community of farmers, ranchers, scientists, researchers, technologists, farm service providers, and food companies who are co-creating an interoperable suite of tools that provide farmers around the world with the best possible knowledge to improve soil health.
Agriculture is responsible for almost 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The way we manage our land has to change dramatically in order to combat climate change. Improving soil health through regenerative agriculture practices can help our soils to capture more carbon, benefiting the farmer, the plants and animals they cultivate, and the food we eat. Wolfe’s Neck Center believes farming has to be a part of the solution to climate change. By creating an interoperable technology ecosystem and supporting a global network of farmers, the OpenTEAM initiative is working toward improving soil health measures and sequestering more carbon into the soil across the globe.
The word interoperable refers to the ability of different systems, such as computers or technological tools, to exchange and share information with one another. Making agricultural technology more interoperable means farmers and ranchers can use multiple tools to track things like their farm management or organic certification without having to enter data multiple times. Instead, they can enter it once and the interoperability of their tools will allow them to use that data multiple times.
OpenTEAM collaborates with a wide variety of tech partners who design, develop, and co-create tools for the benefit of farmers and ranchers. Some help land stewards to measure the amount of carbon in their soil, others help them to better manage their farms and ranches. OpenTEAM is constantly working with its Hubs and network farms to test these tools and make them better.
Healthy soil is critical to cooling the planet. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is a key part of the solution to this global problem. Soil is a living ecosystem that contains bacteria, fungi, insects, and organic matter that thrive when the other soil elements are in balance. If these elements are thriving, the plants and animals that we eat will as well. By minimizing erosion, maximizing water infiltration, and improving nutrient cycling through regenerative farming practices, farmers and ranchers can enhance the resiliency of their land. By building better soil health, our soils can absorb more carbon and support our growing food system.
Regenerative agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves watersheds, and enhances ecosystem services through practices such as managed grazing by livestock, cover crops, no-till, and crop diversity. Finding solutions to the growing climate crisis relies on both limiting greenhouse gas emissions AND capturing carbon in the soil. The world’s soils store several times the amount of carbon as does the atmosphere, acting as a natural “carbon sink.” Healthy soil captures more carbon. By building soil health through regenerative practices, we can farm in a way that solves the problems we face now and makes our farmland more resilient for the future of food and our planet.
OpenTEAM’s Hub farms, members, and network farmers primarily collaborate through working groups, which meet on a regular basis to tackle top priorities in technology, equity, field methods, and human centered design. This work is grounded through our Hub and Network working group, where farmers and ranchers test OpenTEAM’s suite of tools on the ground and provide feedback for growth and improvement.
Another way OpenTEAM works together is through Collabathons. These are sustained collaboration efforts with short sprints in service of long range shared goals. Each series of Collabathons have a defined goal, outcome, and proposed output shaped by a community co-hosts. Members come together over structured 8 week sessions that bridge across our diverse membership and enable us to bring in key folks around particular questions and long-term goals such as the creation of overarching field methods for testing soil carbon to the development of an agricultural data wallet where farmers can manage how they share and protect their own data.
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