ITU Blog: How advanced crop intelligence can help solve food production challenges


May 24, 2017

May 23, 2017

Farmer spraying soybean field with pesticides and herbicides.

Farmers spend nearly half of their operational budgets on agrochemicals such as herbicides and pesticides. Unfortunately, they usually apply these to entire fields at a time, which generates high chemical costs and decreases the efficacy of the chemicals.

Such widespread application of chemicals harms the environment, endangers human health, and increases the likelihood of chem­ical-resistance in weeds, pests, and diseases. And, even with that damaging widespread application, loss to weeds, pests and diseases can range from 20-50%. But manually scouting and sampling to determine the locations of these problems is time-consuming and costly, and cannot easily account for the enormous variety of factors that affect crops.

Farmers face these challenges within the context of decreasing commodity prices, which applies pressure on them to optimize costs and pro­duction efficiency. But what if farmers could automatically identify problem areas within their fields and precisely apply just the right amount of agrochemicals exactly where they are needed?

The solution: Gamaya's advanced crop intelligence

At Gamaya, we are helping farmers do just that — be more targeted and automated in com­bating threats to their crops. By being more effective in how they target crops, growers expe­rience the economic benefits of reduced costs for crop protection, reduced crop threats, and therefore increased yields.

Take, for example, weeds in the fields. The problem with weeds is that they compete with the crop for nutrients, water, and grow­ing space, and therefore reduce the yield. Gamaya's precision agriculture services equip growers with information about the location, type, and intensity of the weeds infesting their fields. This enables them to determine a pre­cise location-specific prescription for anti-weed measures, and seamlessly send that information to precision agricultural technology, such as variable rate sprayers.

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Partnering with local drone operators

Gamaya partners with local drone operators to fly the Gamaya hyperspectral camera over fields. The initial processing of the imagery is done in situ, so most of the data never leaves the farm. The metadata is sent to Gamaya headquarters in Switzerland where data scientists analyse it. The resulting analytics map — the weeds map — is sent to the farmer for viewing, in either Gamaya's ORB web platform, or the farmer's existing farm management platform. The farmer can then analyse the fields for weeds, and create herbicide prescription maps that he can send directly to his spraying equipment.

Gamaya's crop intelligence speeds up and reduces the cost of the often manual process of visually scouting for weeds. Thus, Gamaya ena­bles farmers to precisely apply anti-weed meas­ures with herbicides, rather than spraying the entire field. Targeted spraying reduces chemical usage, thereby significantly reducing the farm­er's costs, lowering the negative impacts to the environment, and on human health, and likely slows the spread of herbicide-resistance.

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Hyperspectral imaging technology

As a data analytics company, Gamaya uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to translate hyperspectral imagery data cap­tured by our unique patented hyperspectral camera into issue maps. By pairing AI and machine-learning algorithms with the database, we are building crop-location-issue triads. We gain speed and accuracy as we acquire more data, and thus are better able to help farmers protect their crops. Speed and accuracy are important to farmers who need to respond quickly to various crop issues. By focusing on the analytics, we are creating a business infra­structure that we can scale and more easily adapt over time.

Our AI/machine-learning algorithms ingest data that are captured by our unique hyperspectral camera as it soars over fields. Our unique pat­ented hyperspectral cameras capture 10 times more information than multispectral cameras.

The Gamaya hyperspectral camera is the small­est, most lightweight hyperspectral camera that to our knowledge is currently available — so tiny it can be flown via drones. Not only is the cam­era itself small, but it compresses data 100 times more efficiently than other hyperspectral cam­eras, making our data processing quicker, less complex, and less expensive than with other hyperspectral sensors.

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Reducing chemical spraying — at scale

The crop intelligence that Gamaya provides equips farmers to more adeptly manage their fields. By providing issue maps showing where, what kind, and how intense an infestation is, Gamaya helps farmers to reduce their costs, limit their disease and weed-related losses, and decrease their environmental impacts. These impacts are magnified by the scale at which Gamaya is working. Starting with very large industrial growers in regions with multiple growing seasons, who use the most chemicals, and use them multiple times a year, Gamaya is helping to make a significant reduction in the use of agrochemicals globally.

Gamaya is working with stakeholders through­out the agricultural and food production value chain, including individual farmers, agronomy consultants, suppliers of agricultural inputs like agrochemicals and farm machinery, as well as with companies that source or trade plant mate­rials to make into consumer food and products. Through such wide-reaching partnerships, Gamaya is bringing into reality our vision of feeding the ever increasing global population, an increasing global challenge, with ever more efficient and effective agriculture.

By Josef Akhtman

CEO and founder, Gamaya

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