Five teams compete for cash and honors at Watsonville agtech hackathon

16 March 2016 by Steve Blum
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It’s more complicated than you realise.

An application that farmers can use to manage the hundreds of tasks they have to work through every day was the winner at the third Apps for Ag hackathon, held in Watsonville on Sunday. The two-person Central Coast Coordinate team took top honors with a web application that uses calendar and map technology to schedule individual jobs for specific locations in the fields.

A total of fifteen competitors representing five teams took part in the competition, hosted by Cabrillo College at the Solari Green Technology Center in downtown Watsonville. They had a day, a night and another day to come up with solutions to common challenges faced by growers in the central coast region.

Second place went to Turbo Compliance. It’s a website where growers can enter raw information over the course of the year about when and where they apply, say, fertiliser, and then quickly output the annual paperwork they need to file.

Agripedia came third, and was singled out by the judges as the most interesting technology. The team linked Wikipedia’s open source wiki software to Twilio’s SMS service and created a platform that allows developing world farmers to use text messaging – which is nearly ubiquitous – to look up and retrieve agricultural information. Their solution included a technique for squeezing useful crop advice – or any similar data – into a 160-character limit.

The two runners-up were Food Traceability, a functional way of tracking food products from the field to final consumers, and AgriGator, an ambitious but ultimately incomplete attempt to corral a wide range of farming data and both mine it and transform it into regulatory compliance paperwork.

This was the first Apps for Ag hackathon to be held in Watsonville. The two previous events were in Coalinga and Davis. The first place team took home $5,000, second and third got $3,000 and $1,000 respectively.