Each year, two billion acres of crops are harvested worldwide at a few hundred dollars per acre. Losses due to late detection of diseases and pests cost farmers hundreds of billions of dollars in damage every year. Through our mobile app, we intend to prevent that, says Simcha Shore, CEO, AgroScout
Tell us about AgroScout and its vision?
Founded in Israel in 2017 and led by a team of experts in agronomy and computer algorithm development, AgroScout is a portfolio company of The Trendlines Group. Aside from Israel, we have expanded our commercial network across North and south America as well as western Europe and Africa.
We have a mobile application (called AgroScout) that enables anyone to turn a commercial low-cost drone into a digital agronomist. Our objective is to help millions of farmers timely detect disease and pests so that they can protect their crops, reduce pesticide use and increase yields. For example, while an agronomist can cover about 150 potato plants in 20 minutes, AgroScout can cover around 10,000 plants in the same time.
Conversion of a drone into a ‘digital agronomist’ sounds interesting. Can you elaborate on this?
AgroScout system efficiently monitors and detects diseases by combining data from multiple sensors that cover the entire field. This includes external data from weather, satellites, local sensors, machine learning and deep learning for accurate detection and monitoring of diseases and other agronomic problems in the field. The data is first uploaded to the Oracle Cloud platform, and then analyzed by our deep learning algorithms.
Apart from extensive coverage in a short time span, what are the other major advantages of AgroScout?
We offer lower scouting costs and efficient detection from early disease stage, along with optimized crop protection applications and autonomous disease classification, leading to increased crop yields and improved crop quality. By providing actionable insights to the users on their computers and mobile devices, we notify them about disease location and crop status, and subsequently offer treatment recommendations.
Tell us about AgroScout’s journey so far. How far have you been able to achieve your target?
The journey so far has been really exciting. We developed a working prototype and built a strong IP (intellectual property) portfolio, including a patent pending in the USA. Beta testing of our application was completed in Israel and in the USA, including a pilot case study on potatoes. We have also carried out a soft product launch in the USA, working with growers, field researchers and a large Potato Growers Association.
Agritech is a burgeoning segment. Where do you place yourself in it, and who are your main target groups?
AgroScout is targeting millions of small and medium growers, who harvest the majority of crops globally — more than 80% of crops are grown by small growers all across the world. Our initial focus group includes potato growers in the US and Western Europe.
This is only the beginning and we want to provide AI protection to more crops. Each year, 2 billion acres of crops are harvested worldwide at a few hundred dollars per acre. Losses due to late detection of diseases and pests run into hundreds of billions every year. If we were to charge only $1 per acre every year, our global market potential would be over $2 billion a year.