The Misleading Appeal of ‘Open Source’
Intellectual property in the realm of agricultural technology is rightly considered problematic for farmers and for agriculture broadly.
Restrictions for example, that are placed on a farmer's ability to repair the tractor that they rely on daily, or to access data from their greenhouse temperature monitor, can interfere with that farmer’s livelihood. Although the pace of technological development in agriculture has been rapid, recent decades have seen more and more of the tools that have become vital to the farmer’s operations become “closed” -- with access to the underlying technology now requiring expensive service contracts, or special access codes. The useful information that many farmers now collect concerning their farming operation -- environmental data, as well as crop yields, and farm logistics -- is now “rented” to them via proprietary data platforms, which might arbitrarily change the terms of service, or go out of business, leaving the farmer with “b