The image of Talking Tech an article about agricultural technology

Jul 6, 2024
Talking tech: New app innovations aid growers

Farming has forever been changed by technology, with new innovations helping growers of fruit, vegetables and tree nuts improve things such as pest management, disease monitoring and data collecting.

One of the biggest help to growers these days are mobile apps, which can help farmers achieve optimized irrigation, targeted fertilization and enhanced field monitoring. With the use of a phone, growers can uncover a host of information and save themselves time and money in the process.

AgProz

AgProz offers software and mobile solutions that provide accurate and responsive crop acreage data, reliable marketing resources and analytics that help growers of all segments.

“We’re more tied to vendors and companies who are trying to find growers,” said John Krum, founder and CEO of AgProz. 

Krum started the company with the idea of overlaying agriculture data on a map, similar to Zillow for real estate. 

AgProz

“With AgProz, what you’re able to do is from a map see how many acres a grower has, what kind of props are farmed, as well as a name and contact info,” Krum said. “Once I was able to pull out this information, I was no longer going in blind about what growers I could get in front of and help. It empowers companies like John Deere and others. It keeps the right people in front of the right growers.” 

The core product is the app, and now the data is being leveraged more from a marketing lens as a workforce tool.

“You can track certain things inside the app and navigating the workflow before doing follow-ups,” Krum said.

Doktar

Regardless of the crop focus — tree fruits, nuts, vegetables — Netherlands-based Doktar’s mobile app solutions help farmers make decisions on real-time data for precision farming and smart ag.

IoTrack is a mobile application that enables the management of the company’s Filiz Agricultural Sensor Station and PestTrap Digital Pest Tracking Station from a single platform. 

“Users can track their data flow and receive instant notifications from IoT-enabled devices, allowing them to make informed decisions and enhance efficiency,” said Tanzer Bilgen, CEO for Doktar.

Doktar Technologies

Meanwhile, PestTrap is an IoT pest-tracking station that utilizes machine learning to accurately identify and count pests in real-time. It is suitable for use in fields, orchards, greenhouses, warehouses and forests. 

“With sticky paper and an integrated camera, PestTrap captures daily images and accurately identifies pest types,” Bilgen said. “Integrated with the IoTrack mobile application, PestTrap enables effortless remote tracking and sends notifications when pest levels reach a risk threshold.”

Users of PestTrap receive high-resolution images with its 5MP camera and can adjust the image frequency and timing options for more precise monitoring. 

“They can view pest species distribution and 48-hour spraying suitability assessments to take timely actions that reduce the economic impact of pests and optimize yields,” Bilgen said. “PestTrap’s machine learning algorithm recognizes region-specific pests, tracks their developmental cycle and learns to identify new pests accurately within two weeks.”

Both IoTrack and Orbit, an app that helps farmers monitor the health and development of their crops and identify underdeveloped, water-stressed or over-irrigated areas, enable farmers to view all data on their homepage and spot problems immediately.

“Overall, IoTrack helps implement practices for precision agriculture by instantly controlling irrigation problems, disease risks, microclimate weather conditions, calculating advanced agricultural metrics, and potential pest infestations,” Bilgen said. The app also helps track the timing of irrigation, spraying, and phenological stage changes in the field by recording them on time.

“Health, inspection and water stress maps are crucial,” Bilgen said. “With Orbit, you can monitor the weather hourly with the live precipitation and storm tracking feature and take timely precautions with frost risk and fungal disease risk notifications.”

Barn Owl Technologies

Barn Owl Technologies builds physical hardware that acts as an automatic scouting tool that helps growers with insect monitoring and provides early timing for growers to make early decisions for insect pest management.

“It will lead to a reduction on bug sprays and increase production,” said Richard Chen, Barn Owl Technologies’ president. “We are working with apple growers in Massachusetts and target harmful pests such as oriental fruit moth, codling moth, Obliquebanded leafroller, plum curculio, apple maggot and brown marmorated stink bug.”

Barn Owl Technologies logo

The scouting can be implemented via a mobile app and provides first arrival dates (biofix) and weekly insect counting.

“Scouting insects is usually a weekly job for growers, but if they mess up the first arrival date, they spray all season long,” Chen said. “Finding first arrival date for growers requires them to scout every day, which is not feasible.” 

The company is also currently building an automatic trapping system for Colorado potato beetles and focusing its efforts on ground and crawling insects. 

One of the vegetable growers told Chen production by can be increased 25%-50% when early arrival dates for potato beetles are discovered, he said. 

Irrigation control

Other popular mobile apps include FieldNET Mobile, Agrobase and Pospera.

FieldNET Mobile allows growers to monitor and control irrigation systems from a mobile device, improving water efficiency and crop health. 

Agrobase, a crop protection database, provides comprehensive pest and disease identification, weed identification, plus agricultural news and trends.

Prospera offers pivot irrigation monitoring from an app, helping in irrigation planning and control.

Optical sorting equipment

Optical sorters are another area experiencing much innovation, with a big trend being the integration of AI, offering results akin to human inspection but at a significantly faster pace.

“This advancement involves the use of cameras with quicker processors to reduce collateral loss resulting from misdetection,” said Oscar Sandoval, California senior regional account manager at AMVT. “In response to this trend, our company has embraced AI by incorporating this feature into most of our sorter offerings, catering not only to bulk materials but also packaged goods. This addition aids in detecting issues such as improperly sealed bags or loosely capped jars, enhancing the sorting process for fruit/nut crop growers.”

These solutions ensure improved quality and cleanliness of the final product for consumers, minimizing the loss of good products in the reject pile. Ultimately, they enable growers to preserve a higher quantity of top-quality products.

“Compared to previous generations, the newer optical sorting equipment goes beyond traditional RGB technology, which relies on color differentiation,” Sandoval said. “The latest models analyze factors like size, color, texture and length to achieve precise separation, mirroring the discernment of the human eye utilizing AI.”

Another company taking advantage of AI is Taranis, which offers an advanced Open-Source Intelligence tool that utilizes AI and aerial imaging to monitor crops at higher resolutions than were done historically. This helps better detect pest issues, diseases and nutrient deficiencies early, enabling timely interventions.   

As agriculture continues to evolve with technological advancements including mobile apps, IoT devices, and AI-driven solutions, the future of farming is not just about innovation, it’s about precision, efficiency and sustainability for growers worldwide.

By Keith Loria

A graduate of the University of Miami, Keith Loria is an award-winning journalist who has been writing for almost 20 years. View his recent writing at keithloria.contently.com




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