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Less is More - Introducing Precision Agriculture

In a previous blogpost, we mentioned that precision agriculture is a fast-growing trend in agriculture.


So what is precision agriculture? Does it really matter? And what does it have to do with Israel?


In a nutshell

Precision agriculture (PA) is a broad concept that includes a wide array of practices that seek to increase the level of control over and the precision of agricultural practices. PA harnesses data to help farmers optimize their decision-making, execute tasks in the most efficient way and, in some cases, automate farming processes.


Originally focused on the introduction of guidance systems for tractors through the use of GPS technology, the scope of precision agriculture has grown extensively over the years. A dizzying range of technologies are now used to help improve the accuracy of farming activities (including remote sensors, drones and specialised software powered by artificial intelligence, to name but a few).


Why the focus on precision? Simply put, efficiency.


This may seem obvious, but its consequences are far reaching. Inaccurate fertilizer applications can lead to overuse, polluting runoffs and added expense for farmers. The consequences of over- or underwatering are dire, be it with respect to yields and water waste. Imprecise pesticide use can lead to significant pollution while hampering the desired effects. Harvesting at the wrong time, or missing signs of crop damage, reduces shelf life and increases agricultural waste. So do imprecise approaches to post-harvest crop management.


In other words, by allowing farmers to do exactly what is needed in the right place, at the right time and with the right inputs, precision agriculture enables the production of more high-quality crops with less.


Why this matters

At its worst, agriculture is a significant part of the world’s nutritional and environmental challenges: producing insufficient and poor quality food while wasting finite resources, contributing to pollution and using excess land that could otherwise be earmarked for other purposes.


At its best, agriculture is an awe inspiring intervention that simultaneously tackles several of our most pressing challenges. It can provide abundant and healthy food while fostering economic growth. It can promote regenerative practices and use the fewest possible resources.


By producing more with less and reducing waste, precision agriculture helps farmers achieve agriculture’s true potential.


Inspiring examples from Israel

Building upon its cutting-edge agricultural and artificial intelligence expertise, the start-up nation has emerged as a key player in precision agriculture. Whether it be with respect to irrigation, robotics or pest and disease management, Israeli companies are helping to usher in the farms of tomorrow.


Here is a selection of some of Israel’s trailblazing precision agriculture companies:


CropX

Selected as one of the World Economic Forum’s 100 most promising technology pioneers, CropX is dedicated to revolutionizing and automating farm management.


It all starts underground, where the company’s soil sensors monitor moisture, temperature and salinity. This geo-tagged data is then analysed - alongside user data, satellite images, weather data, and topographic and soil maps - through CropX hydraulic and crop models.


The insights gleaned from this intensive data crunching are then accessed through the company’s cloud platform and can be used to optimise irrigation, fertilization and crop protection.


Netafim

They say necessity is the mother of invention. Is it any wonder, then, that the world’s leading irrigation company started in Israel’s Negev desert?


Netafim boasts 5000 staff working across 110 countries. Their solutions have helped over 2 million farmers to better irrigate over 10 million hectares of land.


The inventors of drip irrigation now count various solutions tailored to the needs of their diverse client base: from their gravity-based drip irrigation solution to their smart irrigation system, NetBeat™.


Taranis

A plane that can take a high resolution photograph of a beetle eating a leaf isn’t just impressive, it’s also helpful.


Taranis uses high-resolution aerial surveillance imagery, data science and deep learning algorithms to identify the early signs of crop threats. Whether it be nutrient deficiency, weeds, disease or pests, Taranis enables farmers to take remedial action at the earliest sign of a threat. By acting early, Taranis helps farmers to save time, money and farm more sustainably using fewer inputs. It also helps produce accurate yield estimates so farmers can better manage their businesses.


Millions of acres of farmland are currently under Taranis’ watchful eye.


How to find out more

More examples of Israeli agritech companies, including those focused on precision agriculture, are available via the Start-Up Nation Finder search engine.


We know how hard it can be to find the right technology that is perfectly suited to your needs and the challenges you face. We offer technology transfer support services where our experts work with you to identify, source and adapt the ideal Israeli technological solution for you. To find out more, simply email us at: volcani@vipartnerships.org






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