Precision agriculture is all about smarter farming — using technology to help farmers use less to grow more. For example, thanks to remote and smart sensors, drones, GPS sensors and guidance technologies, farms can use less water, land, herbicides and insecticides. The precision farming market is expected to grow from $8.5 billion this year to $15.6 billion by 2030, trending upward thanks to concerns around climate change and farming’s environmental impact.
Solinftec, which provides end-to-end agriculture solutions, announced a $60 million growth investment round today. The company deploys sensors, computers and displays in farm equipment to provide customers with real-time, in-field data on crops, equipment, inputs and weather conditions.
Its operation management software, powered by an AI platform called Alice AI, allows customers to optimally schedule and plan their farming operations and to make real-time decisions and adjustments. Alice AI uses a series of data science tools, including machine learning, supervised and unsupervised identification algorithms, computer vision and cognitive identification modules, in addition to other specific algorithms such as logistics, geo-positioning and clustering.
“The world is facing a massive global challenge – to increase the food production by around 60% to feed the world’s population by 2050, but there is no land expansion available and we need to minimize the climate and environmental impact,” Solinftec’s CEO, Britaldo Hernandez, told VentureBeat. “In our view, smarter farming combining AI and robotics is needed.”
Agricultural variables find structure with AI
Solinftec’s new funding will enable the company to expand its digital farm operating system, which manages more than 27 million acres in Brazil, the U.S. and Latin America. The company claims to serve 85% of Brazilian sugarcane growers, the top five grain producers in Brazil and Growmark, one of North America’s largest agricultural cooperatives.
For example, for spraying pest-control chemicals or other compounds, Solinftec combines the data collected from devices with weather data to give real-time insights to farmers about whether they are spraying according to the product label/prescription — which specifies what are the conditions required for its application.
“If the conditions changed throughout the day, we would let them know as soon as it happened and give insights about which adjustments they should make based on that,” Hernandez said.
The variables are changing constantly in agriculture operations, he explained. “Most of them we can’t control, such as the weather, so to make real-time decisions AI is crucial,” he said. “With the right data collection, AI can do the appropriate calculations and optimize these operations, allowing for more precise agriculture and faster decision-making.”