History in the Making: First Independent Replication of Open Source Tractor

Daniel and Hayden, recent graduates of the Polytechnic High School in Pasadena, CA, along with their engineering class and several students from nearby Blair High School, recently completed a build of the LifeTrac III (current version is Prototype IV). They will donate the tractor to The South Central Farmers Cooperative, for use on their 120 acre farm in Shafter, CA.

“Our rationale for taking on this project is three pronged. By being among the first- and the first high school aged students- to replicate the Lifetrac, we are doing a service to the Open Ecology Project, and, consequently, may be helping change the future of agriculture everywhere. Our project will, likewise, benefit the South Central Farmers, who are eager to experiment with open source agricultural technology. Finally, bringing a project like this to the Polytechnic School (and, in a smaller degree to Blair High School) will provide aspiring engineers with a chance to use their skills in the field before leaving for college.” – Daniel & Hayden

The lurching you see in the drive in the video below is likely a result of a small problem that can be easily overcome by working on the plumbing of the brake bypass on these hydraulic motors. They plan to finish any final repairs and take care of things like putting in a floor, seat, attaching the bucket and painting it over their Winter break.

Hayden recently left to go to school at Harvard and Daniel Leon is now at the University of San Francisco. We wish them the best of luck – congratulations on some bright futures ahead of you!



  1. Daniel Medrano

    This is so encouraging.
    Greetings from Ecuador.

  2. D & H » Blog Archive » Press

    […] Blog post from Open Source Ecology […]

  3. Derek Andrjeski

    Awesome work, men!

  4. […] but the concept of making modern agriculture and manufacturing accessible to everyone is exciting. Recently they put up an announcement that a pair of high school students from Pasadena used the open-source designs the team published to […]

  5. […] OSE blog post. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInEmailPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Tagged […]

  6. Daniel

    Amazing, good to see people are actually building LTs at last.

    Hopefully someone will do the debian of the GVCS and then someone else will build on that to make the Ubuntu of GVCSs!

  7. Hope

    i would be very interested to know whether the people using the replicated lifetrac for real world applications can honestly say that the Lifetrac performs just as well as the equivilant John Deere tractor. (if it does not, what are the differences.

    1. Marcin

      Of course not. JD has a $1B/year R&D budget. We have about 0.0001 of that. However, withing another 2000 hours of research and development (we have about 500 hours of field testing now), we may be able to knock the pants off John Deere on an equivalent product. That’s a nice call-out for the 2000 Hour LifeTrac campaign – how far can we go to a significant market share after another 2000 Hours of development? We are in nonlinear territory.

  8. Hope

    Thanks for the clarification Marcin. I actually feel a little embarrassed asking the question now. I was trying to figure out if the the crowdsourcing method of experts contributing time and expertise could eventually match or better a group of experts with a multi-million dollar R&D budgt working for a traditional company. Assuming OSE gets significant funding, I can’t see why not (I’m just guessing ).

    Furthermore, coming from a non-farming background I’m trying to determine whether the current OSE tractor would aid small farmers or collectives of farmer in Africa (factors such as ease of use, safety operating the tractor, will itwork efficientlyin high temp climate &high altitude climates). I’m seriously considering an investment in a small manufacturing operation and want to miniise my risks .).

  9. Hope

    Final question – if anyone involved can help. What size donation would be required for 2000hrs development for the Lifetrac ? It would also be useful to know either a breakdown or total amount required to create all 50 machines on the list. I’m thinking of the perfect scenario, so you could afford all the expertise you need. I’m guessing the $20m mark (total). (or is that a little conservative for 2000hrs development for each item?)

  10. Marcin

    Please see for development budget – it is the Global Village Construction Set – Budget Rationale under Finacials on the main page of the wiki. We are reworking this budget because the budget does not account for the organizational infrastructure required to carry out the development process. The budget also does not account for what it would take to scale such an open development process. These nummbers are important if we intend to create a scalable, open source product development pipeline.

  11. Breeds of chicken

    We’re a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community. Your site provided us with valuable info to work on. You’ve done a formidable job and
    our whole community will be grateful to you.

  12. […] consistently using the Power Cube with our LifeTracs at FeF. Daniel and Hayden, who are the first independent replicators of LifeTrac III – also built a Power cube to use with their […]