From spectral data and AI-powered robotics, technology plays a role in sustainability


Migel Tissera, co-founder and CTO of Metaspectral, says technology plays an important role in improving the sustainability of agriculture.

“Automating manual labor is an obvious application, but there is also significant opportunity in using technologies such as advanced spectral analysis for precision agriculture,” Tissera said. “When spectral data, which contains information from across the electromagnetic spectrum, is analyzed using deep learning, it is possible to identify the material composition of what is captured in the images.”

Tissera says that with this data, you can create environmental models for mapping GHGs, quantifying carbon sequestration, measuring chlorophyll levels, detecting crop disease, and measuring soil moisture content. floor. “It allows farmers to take hyper-localized and targeted actions on their farm, like knowing where to put nitrogen, potassium or phosphorus to produce the best result.”

“The main advantage of using data extracted from satellite observation is its scalability,” Tissera said. “It allows us to analyze large swathes of terrain, which is complementary to aerial platforms such as drones, where that data is much more localized.”

Tissera says that with data from space observations, they can create models that cover larger parts of the atmosphere, giving a big picture view of the earth.

“This allows for the creation of greenhouse gas models that span entire provinces and countries,” Tissera said. “By zooming out and getting a broader, more holistic view, we can then create policies and legislation at the national level.”

But Tissera also believes there are financial barriers to deploying more advanced technologies.

“While the costs associated with new technologies eventually come down over time, this should always, in my view, also be addressed at the tax level, where we are considering giving tax breaks to farmers who adopt new technologies that improve sustainability results,” said Tissera. .

Pitchbook’s December 2021 emerging tech research shows that agtech startups raised $3.2 billion in the third quarter of 2021. The report dives heavily into why funding has increased, including concerns for food security during global supply chain disruptions, data-driven crop productivity gains, and environmentally friendly farming techniques. VC-backed funding focused on agricultural biologics – environmentally friendly alternatives to synthetic fertilizers and emerging technologies in the form of field sensors and hyperspectral imaging with drones.

AI-powered robotics

Jonathan Berte, founder and former CEO of Robovision, says society expects more from agriculture; more mouths to feed but with less impact on the environment and better anticipated product quality while avoiding price escalation,

“To make matters even more difficult, labor shortages are becoming a structural phenomenon, so farmers and producers need to do things differently to stay profitable and because developed countries are translating societal expectations into a stricter regulations,” Berte said. “For example, to meet the growing need for healthy vegetables and move away from polluting pesticides, AI-powered weeding robots will need to be deployed at scale.”

Berte says he expects to see a new wave of automation driven by AI-powered robotics over the next decade.

“We expect horticulture to lead the way and outdoor agriculture to follow; with weeding and agricultural work, robots will become normal in the next few years,” Berte said. “We also expect to see AI-based farm management systems that enable micro-level decision making – each individual plant receives exactly the water or nutrients it needs to grow optimally.”

Berte believes that AI will play a crucial role in creating sustainable agriculture. “Smart machines will help us use less pesticides, water and land for the same yield. Plus, it will help us grow the food we need closer to consumers.”

“Eventually, we will have AI-powered robotics to manage our animals and plants, and they will be optimally directed by AI-powered farm management systems that will get smarter over time,” said added Bert.

Berte says that later, food processing companies and retailers will interact with farm management systems, and AI systems will be able to match consumer demand and farmer supply optimally, reducing waste and optimizing quality.

“So in many ways AI systems will become a critical enabling technology that agrifood ecosystems need to address grand societal challenges,” Berte said.

A gamified ESG platform

Derek Lyons, co-founder and CTO at Actual, says they’re seeing a lot of discussion around environment, sustainability and governance (ESG) right now. “But there’s a gap in the market between making zero net promises and delivering on them.”

The company has created an ESG platform that can assess risk, identify carbon hotspots and demonstrate practical pathways such as regenerative agriculture practices to net zero.

The platform was created with game-like elements reminiscent of the SimCity computer game with vivid 3D modeling options and satellite-accurate project renderings, making ESG action plans visual and interactive.

Lyons says its ESG tool is not focused on collecting, tracking and accounting for data, but on actions to reduce emissions and helps farms translate their sustainability goals into concrete plans. “We enable farms to translate the latest scientific advances into detailed changes in the field.”

The company has worked with the New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) Regenerative Wool (ZQRX) platform to enable 600 wool farms covering over 3.5 million acres of New Zealand farmland to transition to net zero wool production.

“We worked with the company to identify specific acre-by-acre actions that could reduce emissions from more than 300 ZQRX farms by nearly 70%,” Lyons said. “This reduction is an emissions reduction equivalent to replacing every gas-powered car in San Francisco with an electric vehicle,” Lyons said.

“These farms that supply the world’s finest quality wool to global fashion brands like Allbirds, VF Corporation and Loro Piana – now have a course to deliver net-zero natural fibers on a scale that has never been accomplished before. “Lyons said.


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