Rewarding Nature Hack

10 04 2018
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10 & 11 April 2018
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Aanmelden tot:
Register until:
10 april
10 & 11 April 2018
Event fee:
Voor wie:
For whom?

experts in artificial intelligence and machine learning, RS and radar creatives, tech savvy coders and developers, and domain experts.

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Mercure Hotel
De Nieuwe Poort 20
3812 PA Amersfoort
The Netherlands

Weidevogeldrone project Brabants Landschap



Grass or herbs?

Grass? Herbs? No, not the typically Dutch stimulants, but as a real management question for farmers. In grassland management, the largest crop in Europe, differences in management practices can have a huge impact on biodiversity. At present most of the grasslands in the Netherlands are managed as a monoculture without the positive contributions and unwelcoming to any other species. 

‘Herb-­rich grassland’ with multiple types of grass and herbs strengthens the soil, leads to more stable production and is more resistant to drought. Permanent herb-rich grassland can also significantly reduce climate gas emissions and improve water quality. A diverse composition of grass also has a positive effect on aboveground biodiversity including through nectar as food for bees and through insect composition as food for meadow birds and other birds.

We are facing great challenges of strengthening nature and combating climate change. Agriculture can have an important contribution to this challenge. To stimulate farmers to contribute to this challenge, it is crucial to reward farmers for their performance. The Biodiversity Monitor for Dairy Farming uses Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure the results of individual dairy farms on nature, landscape, climate and environment on the farm and beyond. Everyone agrees that herb-rich grassland can make an important contribution. Herb rich grassland is one of the KPI’s. 

This hackathon we look into the question: how can we measure herb-rich grassland using available data in order to be able to reward farmers for enhancing biodiversity.  

Data & Tech for Nature-inclusive Farming

In the mean time, lots of satellite and other data and new tech became available. What can data and tech offer, to reward farmers for nature. In this hackathon we want explore this question. 

For the Rewarding Nature hackathon we will take a farmer-centric approach. How can we support farmers to make their sustainability process visible and measurable. Farmers will be using tech to improve their  environmental performance, not unlike tech is supporting their primary production process. It will also serve to justify labour or other investments, in order to be compensated for it.  Therefore it should be farmers who own and control dataflows about their practice. Obviously, close articulation is needed with Governments (EU and national), their payment agencies and industries. We urge them to participate.  

The multistakeholder approach is reflected in the organizers:  this hackathon is powered by a partnership of WWF NL, RVO and

The hackathon will take place during the CAPIGI conference on Performance Agriculture, that connects people from government, science, ag-industry and businesses to discuss the application of geospatial data and systems in agriculture. International geospatial and ag-tech experts will support teams in dedicated fixer sessions.


How can we measure herb-rich grassland in order to be able to reward farmers for farming in balance with nature? There are many possible angles to the question. How to monitor farmers' management of grasslands and the impact for 'nature'? What are yardsticks, KPIs, or benchmarking mechanisms? How to make this visible, and to whom? What is fair; rewarding the farmers' effort or the effect? How to add farmers' common sense to data? How to do efficient patrolling, without ending up in a Big Brother situation?  These are examples of the approaches we hope hackers will take.  

We will mobilise an excellent group, and prep all relevant data, that might contribute to solutions that will give farmers the incentives and rewards to move forward on the environmental performance of his farm. From satellites to drones, from geo tagging pictures to big open data: it's all game!

Track 1: The sky is the limit

Can grassland rich in herbs be distinguished from other permanent grassland?  Rewarding farmers for nature sounds cool but can only be succesful if fair and just. Can satellite and other sensing and imaging technology offer interesting solutions? Recent studies by Ruth Howison in RUG suggest that radar might give us clues. Or are drones the solution? This track will look for smart algorithms and models to successfully determine different types of grassland management. 

Track 2: Down to earth

For decision making processes more and more relevant data are coming available, some as open data. Can data on landuse, soil types and the weather give us actionable insights for management and options for including biodiversity measures? For this track we choose ground control. We will use big and open data from the Agro Data Cube, and we will look for opportunities to build interesting, smart, social apps on top of it. A particular interesting option we will look at are the opportunity that geotagged photos can offer. We will also explore possibilities to connect to interesting nature observation initiatives like

Track 3: Social and institutional design

So what is the next step when we talk about rewarding farmers for nature, biodiversity and other environmental services? The European Union is taking serious steps to transform the Common Agricultural Policy from a compliance-based framework to an impact-based framework. They want to reward farmers based on actual results. This has huge implications for farmers, their organizations, policy, industries and payment agencies. This track will be dedicated to data and tech driven opportunities for farmers that will help them monitor, log, and communicate relevant their environmental services. But their are also social, institutional an legal implications.


Data on offer, skills in demand

 We offer access to quality data: Participants will have access to the SentinelHub ( which is a powerful repository of standardised satellite data. Additional data (meteo, soil, land-use maps, etc.) will be provided from different sources, with experts present to guide you. The data will be available on the Farmhack Github:

Apart from the data, we wrote you some blogposts to catch up with the topic. In the interview with Alex Datema, chairman of, you can read up on the farmers’ perspective on herb-rich grassland and why they are partner of the upcoming hackathon (in Dutch). And in this overview blog you can catch up on why herb-rich grassland is such an important indicator, what the limitations of satellite data have been, and why we are now on the verge of an exciting breakthrough!


We are looking for experts who are motivated. The combination of artificial intelligence methods with satellite data supersedes the traditional classification by far. Machine learning techniques on satellite data have proven to be very powerful in other/similar applications. Combining artificial intelligence | machine learning | deep learning | signal & image processing with satellite data | Remote Sensing | optical and radar | multi-temporal time series can provide new insights.

A full conference with experts in satellite data processing, agronomy, land-use classification, data science, precision agriculture and more is available for consultation. Knowledge exchange and networking are a natural part of this event. Participants of the conference will be guided through hands-on participation in so called fixer sessions.

We are looking for you!

Join the Rewarding Nature Hack and become the champion for stimulating nature-inclusive agriculture. We are looking for hands-on experts in artificial intelligence and machine learning, remote sensing and radar creatives and tech savvy coders and developers. Furthermore, we are looking for domain and governance experts.

The challenges are well prepared in order to  allow for carefree hacking during the hackathon. This hackathon offers a unique opportunity to present your results to an audience of experts from government, industry, research and the agricultural sector. Combine Artificial Intelligence skills, data science with smart use of satellite data to create valuable applications for societal change. 




CAPIGI  organizes a biennial conference to connect people in geospatial and GIS from government, science, ag-industry and businesses to discuss the application of geospatial data and systems in agriculture. The "Rewarding Nature" hackathon will be hosted by CAPIGI on their 2018 conference. 

WWF-NL acts as hackathon challenger, in partnership with BoerEnNatuur and RVO. WWF-NL has the mission to jointly create a world in which people and nature live in harmony. Agriculture be part o f a solution to enhance nature and combat climate change. The 'biodiversity monitor' is a new tool for standardised quantification of biodiversity-enhancing performance in the dairy sector. Thistool can be used to reward farmer for their performance. A clear method to measure herb-rich grassland is lacking.

The hackathon is powered by FarmHackNL, a catalyst for solutions and innovations in the agricultural and farming sector. We mobilize coders, developers, creatives and domain experts to tackle IT challenges that farmers are facing. Our hackathons attract more and different types of users of agricultural data, which yields richer, more creative and more applied agricultural technology. Participants work in interdisciplinary teams, on the farm, with the farmer. They build solutions to real-world problems, through ideation and code.


The program

day 1

After good mornings and coffee, we will start the hackathon with pitches by the challengers, to present the challenges and supporting data. After that, we will have our 'organic-team-formation' exercise.

The rest of the day is dedicated hack time, only interrupted by short inspiration and facilitation sessions for idea generation, intervision and expert consultation. 

Around six we will take care of some pleasant wining & dining, during which we’ll have plenty of time to interact, check your ideas and pitch your solutions, and get some valuable feedback and intel. After dinner we’ll be moonlight hacking! If you are feeling sleepy, you can roll out your sleeping bag!

day 2

After an early breakfast we’ll start with short intervision, to kickstart your day. After that it is all hack time before pitching at the CAPIGI conference.

Before lunch all teams will present their proof of concept, prototype or mock up to a jury. Pitches will be followed by a short award ceremony.