• Falk Wolsky

Agriculture - Silent but important innovations...

It’s interesting how much noise a taxi app or a flat booking platform generate – but the real important innovations are so silent. Uber and AirBnB cannot feed us. Agriculture innovations will do…

Let’s have a look to agriculture innovations as I see it currently.

Precision agriculture, agricultural monitoring (Big Data), Connected Farming (IoT), Urban agriculture and Soil improvement. Naturally everything in the range of natural fertiliser’s. This are the topics to invest… To track and to engage.

You think autonomous driving is all about Google, Tesla and Uber. Well – in farming they are already there… The driverless tractor! Companies and projects like Aurotron, Autonomoustractor, Case IH and naturally John Deere. There is a lot of enthusiasm in this field – but also fear. But to be honest – the development is already clear. We even have seen it in the movie Interstellar… GPS, Galileo, GLONASS or Beidou guide paths in the cab, monitored and supervised by Big Data solutions.

But for lot of tasks this tractors are the wrong choice. Especially because they are heavy, cost expensive and fuel hungry.

Many of this tasks will be done by drones. UAVs in Agriculture are one current hype. Champions will be the manufacturers, who combine agricultural monitoring with tasks like precise field fertilisation. I count Multi-purpose UAVs as the future winners.

Aerodrone claims to build the largest fleet of more than 50 drones. (Which will be a valuable asset beside the multi-purpose value) Their Drones are really big – but simple in its architecture.

This is a good combination for multi-purpose and cost efficiency. Delair-Tech focus more for agricultural monitoring and build medium sized compact drones.

Also interesting Kray Technologies. The team around Dmytro Surdu wants to build drones they fly in low level above the crops with roundabout 100 Kmh but just 50cm-1m above the crops. This makes real precise flights and fertilisation possible. Same time it could be easier for regulation issues (which is a current show-stopper for many UAV projects)

Less regulation, huge market and creative engineers. Drone projects will pop up 10 times more in China… Dji starts already with the small and lightweight MG-1 drone with 10kg payload. (which is naturally one of the most important numbers to compare)

These Drones will cut cost extremely and make a lot of tractors obsolete. And it triggers a new sharing economy between the farmers. (I think I should start an app project for a UAV exchange stock market)

When we see, that these Drones can spray out fertilisers with high precision it’s already a better situation. But we should care also “what” they spray. Naturally Bayer-Monsanto are in the frontline of this battle. Same time I pray for all of us, that alternate projects and products will take place too… It’s about SMART pesticides! One amazing way is Mycopesticidesfertilizers based on fungi.

The field of natural fertilizers, fertiliser deep placement, soil improvement, functional agrobiodiversity and agricultural nanotechnologies are NOT just related to our responsibility for nature. It’s related to the survival of human mankind. It’s about your and my daughter and son. I have three son – more than enough reason to provide any help I can to this topics of sustainable agriculture!

Organic Fertilizer products are there. Fertrell from US or Frayssinet in France are just examples. Ecofi is a European consortium of such producers.

Parallel to this topics it’s about the global run for protein and water. 1/3 of all crop production goes directly as food for animal farming. The run for protein I also one if the triggers for closed circle aquaculture systems. Technologies to save water will raise up immense… Good directions are efficient irrigation systems like this trace irrigation, clever soil management and weather connected big data applications.

As we have again the link to data driven technologies in agriculture – I find, that this broad field needs an extra investigation. I put it on my task list and promise to deliver later…

Last for today is the booming field of urban agriculture. As more and more people live in cities, there is a lot of space to use. Same time the logistic for urban agriculture products is cheaper and way easier… Very interesting directions here are vertical or cubic farming like systems of Aerofarms or vertical farm systems. I count systems with latest LED technologies for lightning and clever water management for the winners. Look at Green Spirit Farms for example.

We need to understand this big chance! In our cities with changing face, we have so many empty unused industry buildings. This are perfect places for indoor-farming! All infrastructure is given. Rental prices should be cheap… I hope, that local governments will see this chance and support initiatives.

Agriculture is amazing. It’s hard tech, side by side with robotics aerospace, artificial intelligence. But – other technology fields may assist our lives, make some comfort etc. Agriculture will purely save our live! Don’t forget that, when you next time ride an Uber…

I’m happy, that we face growing interest of investors and VCs in this area!

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