2019 HACKATHON RESULTS
AWARD OF EXCELLENCE: FarmHand
Determined by fulfillment of judging criteria, based on feasibility, implementation, business model, etc.
by Marcus Wiens, Brian Addley, Dilan Pauli, Caitlin Thoreson, Michael Thoreson, and Tayab Soomro
PROBLEM: Mental health issues are plaguing the agricultural industry and there is a great deal of stigma surrounding mental illness, especially in rural settings.
SOLUTION: An app called Farm Hand that focuses on the support system of the person at-risk.
While mental health awareness and communication is increasing, there still remains a denial and stigma surrounding getting help, especially in rural populations, who may not have accessible resources. The motivation behind FarmHand stems from the need for better mental health communication among farmers, early intervention and habit monitoring strategies, and a change to the "farmer stereotype," to name a few. While there are many campaigns targeting mental health in farmers (e.g. Bell Let's Talk, DoMore Agriculture Foundation, etc.), there are no apps that directly focus on farmer mental health. FarmHand is directed towards the friends and family of the at-risk individual, as a way to easily and inconspicuously monitor someone that you care about; the at-risk person is also required to download the app, but is asked questions such as "How is the crop looking today?" as a way to gauge mood and/or abnormal behaviour. By asking questions directly to the individual that are indirectly tied to his/her mental health, the app can collect data on the normal and/or abnormal activity of the individual, which is relayed to the support person. Future considerations include integration with heath/fitness trackers such as Apple watches, Fitbits, etc.
MACGYVER AWARD: The STEAM Box
Selected for the uniqueness of their idea and out-of-the-box approach (pun intended).
by Megan Giddings and Luke Silinski
PROBLEM: Kids in rural areas don't have enough opportunities to learn about technology and agriculture
SOLUTION: The STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) Box, an AgTech program for people not directly involved with agriculture.
On Friday night, 13-year-old Luke pitched a problem: how do we get more kids involved in AgTech? A rural student himself, he notes the limited accessibility that rural kids have to learn how to code, or to learn about farming. Together, Megan and Luke proposed an online and real-life program called the STEAM Box, which provides both young people and seniors with the opportunity to be involved with technology and/or agriculture. Through the use of a Venn diagram, Luke and Megan described how seniors have a wealth of wisdom and experience, while young people are curious and eager to learn; these age groups overlap in the way that they can be easily overwhelmed, new to technology, and require hands-on delivery of information. The STEAM Box program provides forums, mentoring, real-life meet-ups, work experience, online learning resources, games, and YouTube videos to introduce young and old people alike to the world of technology in agriculture, allowing them to apply their skills outside of a farm setting.
PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARD: AgPath
Voted for anonymously by the audience, based on personal preference.
by Kaitlyn Kitzan, Kelsey Oatway, and Hanna Howe
PROBLEM: Farms are having an increasingly difficult time finding employees with the various skills they require.
SOLUTION: A job search app designed specifically for finding farm help
It is no secret that it is challenging for farmers to find farm hands with the skills that they require, and can employ all year round. The AgPath app allows farmers to find the help they need. This app is not based off the tradition resume model; instead, transferrable skills and competencies are highlighted. This allows farmers and farm hands to connect based on their values, housing availability, work offerings and flexibility, and so much more. Creating an account on the app requires an behavioural inventory assessment, so both parties can see the type of person they want to work with and the competencies that he/she has. While there are many other competitors in the hiring market (e.g. indeed, LinkedIn, WorkHorseHub, AgCareers.com), AgPath provides for the ease and efficiency of finding transferrable skills applicable to farming.
by Kirk Flaman, Erik Tetland, Brian Twardzik, David Hantke, Dale Skomar
PROBLEM: Strawberry picking is a challenge due to the short harvest season and difficulty to engage a labour force.
SOLUTION: An automated strawberry picker
Kirk is a horticulturalist from Yorkton, SK, who has been struggling to get his 8 acres of strawberries picked during the short harvest and labour season. On Friday, Kirk pitched his idea, with the hope that a team could help him come up with an autonomous strawberry picker. Erik, Brian, David, and Dale were eager to help him out; but they soon found that the strawberry picking industry has been trying out many different types of robots, with little success. The robots are dependent on the layout of the crop, and use machine learning to identify ripe strawberries, with about a 70% efficiency in picking. This group proposed several solutions, including spreading out the harvest window so all strawberries don't have to be picked at once, designing a robot that could apply to more crops than just strawberries, or change the way the berries are held to increase human efficiency of picking.
"Share the Clipboard"
by Ben Lewis, Michael Labbie, and Greg Tank
PROBLEM: Traditional communication on farms is becoming a challenge
SOLUTION: App that creates shared task space, allowing farmers and farm hands to track project/job status
Ben identified that communication on farms via traditional methods such as cell phones and two-way radios is becoming difficult. Typically, the farm manager is called upon regularly to relay the details of what is to be done, when, how, where, and by whom. As a team, Ben, Greg, and Michael proposed an interface for farm communication that can track and store project/job status. This interface would also have a feature for vocal interaction, so Jim in the combine can contact Joe in the grain cart without the entire farm having to be notified, and so Jim doesn't have to wait until he has service to call Joe. The functionality of this interface would aid farm communication by "sharing the clipboard," meaning that each farm worker can see what needs to be done without having to contact "the boss man" or broadcast it to the whole farm.