January 12, 2021 9:21 am Published by
  1. Microsoft launched its AgriTech Startups program to support and grow agricultural entrants at any stage of their market entry.

India has one of the world’s fastest growing agricultural climates, with being one of the world’s largest food producers, boosting crop production to feed up to 170 million people. This has automatically led to the largest AgriTech industries and high level of startups. Recognising this, Microsoft have developed a go-to support system in business and technology through innovative digital solutions, by targeting chain efficiency, productivity and market linkages. The program aims to bring together startups, corporate bodies and governments to provide a shared platform for learning and sharing, by providing suitable tools for any phase of agro-needs across three tiers. Tools provided by Microsoft include access to Azure FarmBase, Azure Cloud Credits and unlimited technical support.

All startups: Those with Seed to Series C accreditation are now able to gain support in sales and marketing tools through Azure storage functions, 2 years of Free Azure Cloud Credits, Office 365 and Visual Studio as well as 24/7 enterprise level technical support availability.

Co-sell startups: Microsoft provides insight into Microsoft’s Azure Marketplace, by entering into a go-to-market allowing greater market reach. 

Co-create solutions: Microsoft also opens the platform for those wanting to build digital agro-solutions, with Azure FarmBeats building self-tailored solutions without having to invest masses. 

To find out more about the Microsoft AgriTech Startups Program click here

2. Implementing AI in AgriTech: drone-powered system of Aerobotics detecting bugs and other unwelcome visitors is set to expand in 2021.

Aerobotics, a South African startup developed a new system back in 2019, which uses drones to detect the wellbeing of perennial crops, providing plant insights through imagery from the sky. The company aims to lead in agro-innovation, by providing solutions to look after larger or harder to manage fields, which may be impossible to keep immune by a simple farmer set up. 

The program allows in-depth analysis throughout the whole season, from determining individual tree health, to the type of pests present, Aerobotics allows farmers to find the direct solution in successful, healthy crop growth, more efficiently than ever before. Aerobotics provides farm-solutions to issues that are unseen by the naked eye, by keeping every single plant on the crop in count using multispectral cameras, signalling issues discovered instantly to its Aeroview software. Farmers are now able to see in depth analysis for every single tree, and act as soon as it is needed. This does not only improve efficiency but enables a secure contingency plan if anything should go wrong on the field. 

Due to the Series-B investment led by Naspers Foundry, drone analysis will now be accessible to farmers worldwide sooner than expected.Since the successful start, Aerobotics has raised £12.2 million from the participation of FMO Ventures Program and the Cathay AfricInvest Innovation Fund, allowing investment in R&D, and future expansion internationally. 

To find out more about being part of an AI led agri-tech innovation click here

3. Onwards and Upwards: Upgrade to the popular MyOperations farm data management tool by John Deere

January 2020 has been innovation-focused, with John Dere upgrading its MyOperations system in January 2021, to a now called Operations Center. The system has previously allowed users to improve efficiency by operating machine usage from a simple smartphone or laptop. New features include a new Work Planner, where the timing and operation of machines can be pre-set according to individual crop needs and field data which is also securely stored on the Cloud. 

Managing larger fields and farms requires multi-level management 24/7, with constant alertness to needs. With this in mind, the biggest focus of the upgrade has been ease of navigation, thus a farmer now only needs four things for successful farm management: Generation 4 Commander Center Display, StarFire Receiver, a JD Link Connection and the Operations Center. These tools simplify the job of the cab operator before the work even begins. Therefore, without having to go out into the field, farmers may optimise workload and monitor operations from one place. 

To find out more about the upgraded system of central farming control click here

4. Self-sufficient soil for plants: new self-watering soil system pulls water from the air to re-distribute moisture to its plants.

A new study conducted in 2020 by students at the University of Texas has allowed innovation towards a more sustainable watering system. The study used super absorbent gels that would pull moisture from the air and re-distribute it based on the water needs of the crop. This worked by heating the soil to a certain temperature which stimulated the gels to release moisture in high heat conditions. Once the water is released in the field, some of it ends up as humidity in air, which is then absorbed again by the gels, leading to a self-sufficient and sustainable cycle for farmers to use. 

A gram of soil is able to extract up to 4 milliliter of water, and approximately 1 kilogram of soil can provide enough moisture for 1 square meter of land, which makes this system valuable for larger fields too. Re-using water in this efficient manner allows time and money saved. 

Find out more about the study and its possibilities click here

5. InnerPlant, new technology giving a voice to your plants 

While it may be tricky to put an exact figure on the destruction caused by pests, InnerPlant has developed a new innovative idea to prevent plants against bugs that account for up to 20% of crop destructions worldwide. InnerPlant codes capabilities into the DNA of the crops, which allows them to signal if something’s up. Fungi, insects, water stress and other deficiencies can now be communicated by its sufferers; using fluorescent signalling which is unseen by the naked eye, can even be detected from space using satellites. InnerPlant’s platform captures the signalling of plants through sensors within 24 hours of urgence, providing farmers with immediate opportunity for action, which is 2 weeks faster than any other system in the market. 

While other systems alert after the damage has been done, InnerPlants literally gets the problem at the root, enabling crop quality to be higher than before.

To attend to your plants’ needs immediately you can do so at the link here: https://innerplant.com/products/ 

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