The world’s population is growing rapidly, with 70 % more food predicted to be needed by 2050. Farming therefore needs to become highly efficient and precise to ensure high yield and quality with minimum use of harmful chemicals.
To meet this aim, many farmers are using variable precision agriculture tools as ground sensors, drones, and satellite photo images that improve crop growing efficiency. However, the major consideration, in this precision agriculture arena, should be taken to determine what crops and which genetic combination (variety) of seeds is best to grow.
Each crop has many seed varieties available, and new ones are introduced annually. Moreover, at present there is no single place where farmers can access comprehensive comparable information on seed varieties that takes into consideration all the necessary parameters.
The SeedOPT project has addressed this need by creating an online platform that allows farmers to select seeds from the most suitable plant varieties based on data that is continuously uploaded and updated by seed providers. “This includes a vast number of properties reflecting the genetic potential of the variety, combined with GIS and environmental data, disease resistances, farmer means of production and market needs,” says project coordinator Limor Gruber.
AI aids farmers
A first, parameters are analysed by AI algorithms to provide farmers a comprehensive comparative matrix that recommends the optimal seed varieties to grow. The platform can help each farmer select the right seed variety to grow and the best agricultural inputs for their plot of land, thereby increasing yield and quality, while reducing the use of chemicals that negatively impact on the environment.
Most leading seed companies in Europe operate using an exclusive distribution model. This means many farmers must rely on regional distributors and are limited to seed varieties from this limited number of sources, leading to inefficient production. “SeedOPT’s online platform connects all farmers including the local small farmer to the global village, giving easy and immediate access to complete information previously not available to them and enable them product comparison, as well as the ability to purchase seed varieties directly from source, which was not previously possible,” Gruber explains.
Higher yields and less environmental impact
Crowd source information generated by the SeedOPT users provides vital insights. “The accumulated data is extremely valuable for the entire agro-industry, market trends, preventing plant disease spread, crop yield forecasts, growth distribution, seed variety usage and more compared to current solutions, which are limited, non-standardised and manual,” emphasised Seedwiz CEO and co-founder Dr Nissim Yonash.
In addition, the AI algorithms developed by SeedOPT will analyse the data to predict which crops are most suitable to grow in new regions. According to Dr Yonash: “We will be able to recommend seed companies extend their activities to new markets using their genetic materials.”
SeedOPT is a unique, standardised, automated, and comprehensive platform freely accessible to any farmer, based on a clear win-win model between all key stakeholders in the market. “Optimisation of crop growth through the online platform will contribute to an increase in food supply and food quality in European and around the world. It will also contribute to mitigation of the effects of climatic change and increase crop’s ability to withstand ever evolving pests and diseases,” Dr Yonash concludes.
Illustration Photo: Soybean Sprouts During Early Growth (credits: United Soybean Board / Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0))