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Apps for Ag hackathon brings ag and tech together

From left, GivingGarden team members Scott Kirkland, Josh Livni, Deema Tamimi and John Knoll.
A gardening and produce-sharing app took top prize in the Apps for Ag hackathon, after contestants pitched judges at the California State Fair in Sacramento on July 17.

The Apps for Ag hackathon, which was spearheaded by Gabe Youtsey, chief information officer, brought software developers, designers, entrepreneurs, farmers and others who work in agriculture to the ANR building for a weekend to create apps to address agricultural issues.

The first place team, GivingGarden, took home $7,500 in prize money, custom rodeo belt buckles and a six-month, top-tier membership to the AgStart Incubator in Woodland.

The hyper-local, produce-sharing app provides gardening advice from the UC Master Gardener Program and enables backyard gardeners to connect with others who want to share their produce. The GivingGarden team members are Scott Kirkland, Josh Livni, Deema Tamimi and John Knoll.

Neil McRoberts, UCCE specialist, explained the threat posed by Asian citrus psyllid.
Second place was awarded to Sense and Protect, a mobile task-management app that connects to climate sensors to protect farmworkers' health and enhance their productivity. Sense and Protect team members Dhrubajyoti Das, Alex Avalos, Anthony Johnson and Peter Swanson shared $4,500.

UC IPM's Mark Takata and Chinh Lam split $2,500 for third place for their ACP STAR System, a geo and temporal database and platform for tracking Asian citrus psyllid and other invasive pests.

The top three teams will also receive complimentary startup incorporation services valued at $2,200 from Royse Law.

From left, UC IPM's Mark Takata and Chinh Lam, who won third place, with Rina DiMare of the California State Fair, and Gabe Youtsey.
Compostable, which finished in fourth place, is an app and “Internet of Things” (IoT) device that diverts food waste from landfills and turns it into fertilizer and fuel so that it can be used on a farm. Sohail Khan, Nathan Azevedo, Brandon Jack, Regan King and Raheela Khan make up the Compostable team.

All of the participating teams had about 48 hours to develop their apps. Teams that were interested were offered $500 in “cloud credits” to build their solutions and host them on Amazon Web Services' platform. Teams also had access to an IoT kit to incorporate connected devices into their solution.

The top four teams pitched their apps to judges in front of a live audience at the California State Fair.

The event was sponsored by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, the California State Fair and the City of Sacramento.

“It's really important for UC ANR to be involved in app development because as farmers and natural resource managers face ever-increasing challenges – climate change, invasive pests, the need to conserve water – technology is one of the ways to find solutions,” said VP Glenda Humiston.

“Using technology we can find better ways to reduce pesticide use, increase irrigation efficiency, reduce travel into the fields, manage people better, and deal with the fact that we have a huge labor shortage in this state,” said Humiston, who served as one of the Apps for Ag judges.

The other judges included University of California Chief Information Officer Tom Andriola, USDA Chief Data Officer Bobby Jones, and Better Food Ventures and Mixing Bowl Hub founder Rob Trice.

From left, judges Rob Trice, Glenda Humiston, Bobby Jones and Tom Andriola.
Posted on Friday, July 29, 2016 at 11:38 AM

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