AgTech Competitors Join Forces To Push The Industry Forward
In order for the industry to move forward, collaboration is necessary. That’s what Darryn Keiller, CEO with Autogrow, is convinced of. “Everybody is innovating, but innovating in silos. There’s no real sharing of advantages created for the broader industry - and that’s the only way of speeding up innovation.”
To change this, Autogrow launched a new farm management platform: FarmRoad. The new platform was launched yesterday at the Indoor AgTech Summit in New York.
“FarmRoadTM was conceived to fulfil two broad purposes. A platform for autonomous farming and secondly as a way of bringing together all disparate technologies that farmers use into one unified management tool,” explains Darryn.
“There are many applications growers have to deal with at their farm. If it’s the cultivars or heating, or energy consumption - traceability, environmental effects, finance, labor. Part of our journey is unifying farm information and data for different farms and crops, including machine learning techniques, into one platform.”
Alongside Ridder Group, Autogrow will also be collaborating with New York based Start-Up NATIVE.
“Equally as important as an established player showing vision, is new entrants to the industry who are also bringing innovation. What NATIVE are creating delivers a fundamental industry building block, which we will integrate with FarmRoadTM,” says Darryn.
The NATIVE platform connects farms with local buyers, maximizing the value of their harvests and helping both buyers and restaurants deliver on the promise and demand of locally sourced food.
“Our partnership with Autogrow will most benefit the growers and the farmers,” says Frank Pica, co-founder, NATIVE. “FarmRoadTM users can provide NATIVE with real-time data that verifies the quantity and quality of their harvests, and Native will return the true market value of the products. NATIVE then provides an outlet for growers to bring their products to premium markets within their region.”
Autogrow will work closely with Ridder Group and NATIVE over the coming months during the pilot phase. The beginning of the journey in working collaboratively with producers and growers.
“The next iterations of FarmRoadTM include flower and fruiting identification through Machine Vision and AI to provide pollination rates and flower to fruit conversion performance. We will be extending the 3rd party integration to include finance, labor management, food security and more,” says Darryn.
Autogrow aren’t just talking - they are doing what they say they are - and have also announced a collaboration with their competitor Ridder Group, which will make it possible for growers to connect their Ridder climate control and irrigation systems to the FarmRoadTM platform.
“To be truly unified you need to be open and work collaboratively across the industry with buy-in from existing major players. It’s a concept we advocated two years ago when we came out with the first open API (Application Programming Interface) and I’m pleased to be in a position to say the dream is now tangible.”
“We are ecstatic that Ridder has shown the foresight and faith in us, to support what we are doing and join us in showing the industry what is possible when true collaboration occurs.”
Both Autogrow and Ridder market automation solutions for Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) and both will be able to integrate with FarmRoadTM. Ridder Group, will make it possible for growers to connect their Ridder climate control and irrigation systems to the FarmRoadTM platform.
“The Ridder Group, developer of the HortiMaX greenhouse control systems for over 40 years, supports the initiative of Autogrow,” says Joep van den Bosch, Chief Innovation Officer, Ridder Group. “Ridder believes strongly in a connected future where systems and data is shared for the benefit of optimizing the plants growing conditions and more efficient and sustainable greenhouse operations.”
There are various developments in the industry causing Autogrow to start innovating in this direction. Darryn explains how there are roadblocks in the way when it comes to the adoption of Agtech including the knowledge base – with the average age of the farming community going up and limited knowledge sharing tools available.
In order to transfer knowledge and systemize it, making it possible to utilize new technology, they developed FarmRoadTM, making it possible to share knowledge and collaborate.