“We help agribusinesses develop software for automating manual measurements and controlling the effectiveness of farms. Agtech solution providers can ensure enough scalability for large farmlands or extra facilities. With the software we build, farmers can control resource consumption and reduce production costs to grow more with less. To gain these benefits, growers need to adopt holistic solutions or integrate separate modules,” says Dmytro Lennyi, AgTech leader and delivery director at Intellias, a Ukrainian software company.
Intellias is a global technology company that helps businesses thrive in a digital-first world by combining engineering excellence, technology expertise, and industry insights. Agriculture is one of the key industries they work in.
Intellias’ AgriTech expertise includes a broad scope of software development services for vertical farming. The company develops end-to-end indoor farming software solutions from scratch, as well as separate modules for data collection, visualization of insights, and automation of processes. All with the focus on integrating products into a unified ecosystem for sustainable growing.
Achieving set KPIs
The Intellias team can create a separate module that mimics the actions of agronomists with 99.9% accuracy. This module can learn with time and automate system responses to changes in plant development. A more advanced machine learning module can help farmers achieve specific KPIs by automatically changing lighting, watering, and temperature parameters to accelerate plant growth.
“Talking about vertical farms, the most critical thing is to monitor plant health. We can implement video recognition of plant diseases to further eliminate their causes. Such monitoring systems can calculate deviation indexes and automatically adjust irrigation, lighting, and temperature as well as add required chemicals to heal plants,” Dmytro notes.
Today, farmers use various farming systems, as unified platforms are rare and very expensive. Intellias can integrate five to six different solutions so farmers can control them via a single interface, eliminate conflicts between apps, and achieve better automation on all levels.
Dmytro adds that, “Finally, we can help clients create a unified platform from scratch that includes a machine learning automation module, control center, cameras, and other industrial IoT sensors to monitor and adjust plant growth. Using such a platform gives growers huge benefits related to farm efficiency, sustainability, and plant health.”
Vertical agriculture roadmap: from concept to profit
Frequent issues, standardization as main
According to Dmytro, lack of standardization is a key pain point. “There are too many vendors on the market who offer software that can hardly be integrated with other products.” To illustrate the problem, let’s compare smart farms with smart homes.
At home, there are two main connectivity channels, Wi-Fi and ZigBee (radio waves), to synchronize all devices and create a digital ecosystem. In agriculture, the technologies are even more complex and have countless standards. Often, AgriTech providers offer farming solutions that require a wired connection that is completely outdated. Most solutions are built on multiple languages, and their compatibility is low. There are a few that are aligned better than others, but they are very expensive.
Another problem is the balance between the power and cost of devices. "Today, powerful sensors and equipment are difficult to afford for private farmers and even medium-sized agribusinesses. This could change when agribusinesses start to partner closely with technology providers in a way that Intellias sees collaboration in other industries developing. For example, automotive brands buy or partner with providers of sensors, hardware, and software to guarantee cheaper and more accurate tools for their needs."
Dmytro explains that the cost-efficiency that comes from implementing agriculture software Intellias develops is the result of several factors. "First, software lowers the cost of operations as farms become automated and require a smaller manual workforce. Another factor is that software increases farming precision, resulting in wise consumption of energy and resources. It also decreases the budget for chemicals."
For example, AI and ML modules can introduce completely new parameters and combinations to increase the number of growth cycles. If previously farmers grew six to seven cycles of product per year, smart monitoring and automation can increase this to seven to nine cycles, which means increasing revenue from the same area and with the same resource consumption.
Experimenting made organized
The modules and systems developed by Intellias are purposely made to help growers experiment with crop recipes. Moreover, applying an AI system to vertical farms makes it possible to automatically adjust growing parameters and introduce new recipes based on AI decisions.
By implementing innovative horticultural lighting systems and indoor farm management software, the company’s clients come closer to crop-based recipes. This means the system can adjust critical parameters for each plant based on real-time monitoring and in-depth analytics.
Mainly, Intellias communicates with its clients who are using software to increase crop yields and grow crops for medical purposes. Based on the client’s needs, software with all the required functionality is developed, allowing to experiment and easily introduce new recipes. “Our solutions are used in multicultural growing facilities by applying industrial IoT sensors to monitor and further adjust growing recipes.”
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Dmytro Lennyi, AgTech leader and delivery director