Prototyping can be a painful (and expensive) experience! The first Farm Hack event I attended at MIT had a focus (at least as I remember it) of trying to get farmers and engineers together to develop new technology. The conversation since then has shifted primarily to farmers documenting their projects. It can be helpful to suggest when writing a grant that you will document your project on Farm Hack, in the sense that the institution with the funding is looking for the greatest possible return on their investment. It works out for the farmer because now they have some money to develop their ideas.
Any time another farmer has ever asked me anything at all about what I do, whether it's who my restaurant accounts are, what prices I get, or what variety of carrots I like, or whatever, I've never held back from answering as well as I can. We need to take care of each other to survive! On the other hand, I'm always really wary of asking farmers (or anyone for that matter) to work, and give their time, without it being valued. I think Barry from Slow Tools has a vision where farmers and engineers collaborate, capture funding, and then "license" their designs to small/distributed manufacturing centers for production. There's a lot of potential for this model to recreate the same market generated problems we're already stuck trying to overcome. But would this approach create both more benefit for everyone and more fairness? And is it a more realistic method for generating new technology that will have a measurable impact on our farms?