New conditions for farmers
JB : What’s next for you in term of technology ?
GW : I’ve developed an in-house software package that we use on our phones and iPads that collects real-time data from the fiel. We have a server in the other room. Farmers used to sit down and write everything in notebooks-what was applied, what variety. Now, we’re collecting all this data electronically, and it gets updated immediately so everyone can access to it. We call it small data-what rate did you plant this time last year, how effective was it, what was the temperature, what was the mind speed ?
PO : instead of me having to do all that soil testing, which is rather tedious, it could be done by autonomous machine, and I could be making decisions based on that . Right now I do my weed scouting, and then I drive the sprayer. With sensors in the fields it’s possible to time the fungicide application better, without paying a field scout. What happens, if, in 25 years, the strayer is driving itself, and all I have to do is stay on field ahead, scouting the field and getting everything ready? There’s potential for better control and to use less products. But everything in our system is geared towards using more.
Interview of North Dakota farmers by Jana Bystrykh
« We are programmed to think that any « next » architecture can only be the outcome of a struggle. Modernism was born in relentless campaign of stripping: of ornament, bourgeois values, frivolity. Because it takes places in the countryside, this is a stealth revolution… TRIC: a rare virgin birth? The building here are not for humans but for things and machines. Thousands of years of architectural and cultural history are detached. Debates, predictions, ideologies ignored, literally. (…)
A new architecture is born beyond our attention, without any symptoms of humanism. We can get rid of handicapped access. There is no reason to articulate anything. There is no entrance, there are no users….robots don’t need beige. There is no tradition, not to sabotage process is the only ambition. There is no context. There is no expectation. There is nothing. But the implication is exhilarating. We have seen their predecessors from the air, surrounding cities with dry batteries of boxes, but not the boxes have matured. In terms of scale, TRIC is a metropolis; in terms of its inhabitants, a tiny village. This coexistence need new words. Thing ? Space ? Things in space? »
« Since Descartes, space defined by the grid allows for the production of certain forms of complexity, but at the same time it means the grid is everywhere, unavoidably underlaying space. In the pixel farm, indigenous knowledge of symbiotic relationship is abstracted and optimized, purified of animist cosmologies and local social-ecologies »
« The durability of the monoculture mentality is seemingly indestructible-we’ve fine-tuned the paradigm for centuries, and it’s embedded into every link of the food chain. Ours crops are bred to thrive in monocultures, our farmers are educated to cultivate in monocultures, our grocery stores are organized to sell monocultures, our eating habits are adapted to demand monocultures, and our policies are developed to reward monocultures. Meanwhile, a lot of research and regulation efforts are out into trying to incrementally make less bad a system that is intrinsically bad. Pixel farming comes in at a different angle : rather than thinkering with the current agricultural system, let’s totally reimagine it! »
« Rather then designing farming systems to control ecological processes in favor of mechanization and efficiency, they argued that farming systems, and the technologies built to enable them, should be designed to support and enhance ecological processes. The pixel farming narrative put ecology first, and other outcomes (like food production) second: if you take care of the ecology, even with machines, the rest will take care of itself. (…) if we just put the right plant in the right place at the right time and in community of the right resolution, we could produce enough food for everybody, including the soil biota and the pollinators and the parasitic wasps, and we could do it without relying on agrochemicals or fossil fuels, because diversity works. »