Software developers, entrepreneurs and farmers are furiously collaborating at this week's Apps for Ag Hackathon at UC Davis. Teams have 36 hours to design the next innovative solution for agriculture.
A hackathon is the computer programming version of a marathon.
Patrick Dosier, the event's organizer, says things always get interesting after midnight.
"People get a little low on sleep, they get a little silly, the creative juices really start flowing. Software developers often have their headphones on and they're in the zone writing code," says Dosier.
Emily Sin is one of this year's 60 software developers. She says some of her best work is created in the wee hours of the morning.
"It kind of is an homage to the days of cramming in college," Sin says.
Sin hopes to build a voice recognition app for farmers because it's tough to use a cell phone when you're hands are covered in dirt.
"The computer can recognize the voice of the grower saying multiple niche ag industry terms," says Sin.
Evan Wigg is the Director of the Farmer's Guild, a non-profit that educates young farmers. He hopes developers design an online service connecting food buyers, like restaurants, to farms. It would be like a dating site profiling growers.
"This one's organic, this one's biodynamic, this one uses no till agriculture. This one is 25 miles out of the city, and this one's out maybe a 100 miles," says Wigg.
Teams are working on various technologies that might predict yields, track canopy sizes or conserve water. Teams will present their new apps Thursday evening at 6 p.m. to a panel of judges.
This is the second Apps for Ag Hackathon.
The winning team from last year's event is working to develop a start-up now.
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