It is probably as old as agriculture itself: The view to the sky to estimate coming rain. But what about the moisture in the soil? How can it be determined whether the "water supply" is sufficient even at the depth where the plants are rooted or whether irrigation is necessary?
This is where the start-up SmartCloudFarming GmbH from Berlin comes in with an innovative digital tool. The vision of the DBU-funded green start-up: "We want to map the soils in 3D and use earth observation data to enable data-supported, remote-controlled soil management," describes Suvrajit Saha, one of the co-founders of SmartCloudFarming. Based on the data collected, farmers should receive continuously updated irrigation recommendations for their areas and be able to fully automate irrigation.
This is made possible by the "SoilEye" software, consisting of satellite-based weather, climate and soil moisture data and a cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) module. This makes SmartCloudFarming currently the only player in its business field that can continuously collect 3D soil moisture data with an area resolution of up to 100 meters by 100 meters and a depth of 90 centimeters.
For agriculture, irrigation that is tailored to requirements means savings in time, energy, costs and above all - water: In high-tech countries, agriculture usually accounts for about 20 percent of total water consumption, in countries with less high-tech agriculture, up to 90 percent of total water consumption. Every year, over-irrigation and the resulting salinisation render an area of about 730,000 hectares of soil worldwide infertile. In addition to precision irrigation, SoilEye should also support the optimal nutrient supply of the soil through adapted fertilization: Work is currently underway to continuously map the supply of nitrogen, phosphate and other trace elements with the aim of avoiding over-fertilisation and the input of fertilisers into water bodies.
The first locations for SoilEye are Germany and Italy: "We have pilot partners from the agricultural sector in Brandenburg, the Emilia-Romagna region and Abruzzo, which have been particularly hard hit by the drought of recent years," says Saha. "For us, ecological and social aspects play an important role in addition to economic goals. We have set ourselves the task of maintaining and improving soil fertility and productivity and thus unlocking the full potential of soil ecosystem services".
The development work of SmartCloudFarming is also continuing in the Corona crisis. Co-founder Saha: "The Corona pandemic has confused many things. But our top priority is to build company value and bring products to customers and we would like to present a fully functional prototype by the end of the year. DBU funding has enabled us to get this far. There is interest from companies in Brazil and Serbia in pilot projects. We would like to take this opportunity."
More about the company: https://smartcloudfarming.com/
Translated by DeepL