At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be much connection between hacking and manure. And yet IT specialists and manure experts are getting together on Thursday 12 October for the MestHack (Manure Hack), a 32-hour ‘hackathon’ at the Dairy Campus in Leeuwarden. Their aim is to think up smart applications for farmers and government bodies, to help them tackle the issue of overfertilization.
Participants in the Manure Hack include civil servants, scientists and information technologists in the field of agriculture, as well as information technologists from outside that field, says Anne Bruinsma, project leader at FarmHack.nl and co-organizer of the Manure Hack. ‘If you want to innovate, you need people who don’t have much inside knowledge, but who do know exactly how to work with data.’
Most people associate ‘hacking’ with breaking in to computer systems. ‘But hackers have very useful skills such as data visualization,’ says Bruinsma. FarmHack.nl therefore asks hackers and other IT experts to help them brainstorm about serious problems by joining in ‘hackathons’.
Participants in the Manure Hack will work in teams on the question of how data about issues such as manure transportation and environmental impact can be stored and retrieved. At around three o’clock on the second day, all the teams will pitch their ideas and the jury will pick the winning IT application. FarmHack.nl will support the winning team with PR and the implementation of their idea.