The Organic Center Partners with USDA’s Economic Research Service; California State University, Fresno; and Purdue University on a free virtual lecture series and hackathon examining technology to solve complex problems in organic farming.
Because organic farmers are prohibited from using common conventional materials such as most pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, the tools available to address common farming challenges are limited. Agricultural technology, however, could offer new opportunities to develop sustainable and organic standards-compliant methods to overcome these barriers. But before that happens, the lack of communication and the scarcity of organic agro-tech collaborations must be overcome to eliminate what is often a disconnect between technology and the needs of organic producers.
Organic farming is made up of a variety of farms. This raises issues such as the accessibility of technology for small and low-income farms, equity around the use and adoption of technology, and the inclusion of marginalized farming communities in development. of agtech.
âThere are a number of innovative technologies under development that are or could be exploited by the organic sector,â said Jessica Shade, director of science programs for The Organic Center. âHowever, the uniqueness of organic has created some challenges for more organic farmers using agricultural technology. This series will address these questions.
The first conference in the series, titled ‘Organic Confluences Conference: Connecting Organic and AgTech’, will take place on Thursday, December 2 and will highlight the potential of technology to support the organic sector, including a panel of organic farmers talking about their experiences and technology needs and a panel of AgTech community members discussing the intersection of their work with the organic.
The second conference, titled âOrganic Confluence Conference: Equity and Access to AgTechâ, to be held on Thursday, February 10, 2022, will examine potential pitfalls regarding equity in AgTech, opportunities for access to small farms, historical and current examples of AgTech exacerbating pre-existing structures of racism in the food system, and methods of analyzing AgTech’s fit for organic ideals.
To apply the information shared at these conferences, The Organic Center will organize a hackathon in collaboration with the Gathering for Open Ag Technology (GOAT) from February 24 to 26, 2022. This event will engage the community in a collaborative computer programming focused on open – find solutions to the challenges facing organic farmers.
To register or get more information about these events, visit www.organic-center.org/AgTech.