Little open source software finds its way into commercial agriculture and, yet, has the potential to reduce production costs for small farm operations as well as diminish potential harmful impacts on the environment in and around crops. Improving the efficiency of applying herbicides and pesticides can be brought about with improved control of sprayer operation.
Row crop agriculture relies upon effective control of weeds and insects while minimizing impact on the environment and the farmer's budget. Using GPS to guide agricultural sprayers through the field can reduce chemical treatments by controlling the position of the sprayer to eliminate overlapping applications or leaving gaps between passes through the field.
Commercial GPS guidance systems are economically out of reach for many small farm operations. An open source option has been developed for under $250 to reduce the investment to retrofit sprayers. The sprayer controller system takes advantage of over the counter electronic components and utilizes Python to encourage a larger audience of developers to participate in enhancing the current product.
Minimizing the use of agricultural chemicals, along with responsible land management practices, can cut costs to farmers in both time and purchase of herbicides and pesticides. Providing an open architecture for applications to aid small farms in crop management will also benefit responsible stewardship of the natural environment.