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Modeling: a tool for taking the guesswork out of growing

“With basic data types like environmental data, yield, and energy consumption, we can run different scenarios to help farmers become more cost-effective and improve their unit economics,” says Dr. Kendra Armstrong, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Crop Convergence, a company that is using advanced decision science to help the CEA industry maximize the potential of each crop.

Crop Convergence was formed in 2022 and is spearheaded by Kendra and her two co-founders, Dr. Guiping Hu and Dr. Lizhi Wang. The three co-founders bring together advanced expertise in plant breeding and systems engineering for agriculture.

Kendra Armstrong pictured at the Indoor AgTech

Crop Convergence has developed a hybrid modeling system that combines crop models, machine learning artificial intelligence, and empirical approaches to create an integrated and robust analysis pipeline. This analysis pipeline is three-pronged with descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive elements that help the grower “find their optimal combination of genetics, environment, and management without extensive farm trials,” as the company website explains.

This hybrid modeling system allows growers to develop and optimize different growing recipes according to crop, cultivar, and environmental parameters, among other elements. Through descriptive analytics, growers can document what the crop is actually doing, then use this data to inform the AI, accelerate the machine learning, and open the doors to prescriptive and predictive analytics.

“We work closely with growers to help them explore different recipes or scenarios and see which ones are working best,” Kendra explains. “Early on, we are providing Analytics as a Service then providing them with the output in their desired format, usually a summary of the data as well as the prediction results.”

In the pipeline: more crops, more features
This year, Crop Convergence’s goal is to develop a comprehensive software package that can integrate into other platforms. The company has focused on lettuce and leafy greens but has recently expanded to tomato and strawberry production.

In the strawberry segment, the trick will be to find the best varieties that produce high yields with amazing flavor and texture, as Kendra explains. With the newfound ability to produce strawberries locally through greenhouse or indoor farm production rather than ship them across the country, there is a renewed interest in developing varieties that still travel well but without compromising on flavor and sweetness.

“Breeds are paying more attention to what consumers and farmers want, as the selection criteria now extend beyond shelf life and the ability to be shipped. And with production against heat stress, pests, and disease, growers are now able to keep their crop even longer,” says Kendra.

Crop Convergence is currently largely project-based, with plans to move towards a subscription model. In the meantime, the company is looking for partners and pilot projects to inform this transition. With its current partners, Crop Convergence works to clean up its data and build models that are as impactful as possible.

“We feel strongly that the next few months need to be focused on developing the model, after which we will move into a funding round and look to expand our team,” Kendra says.

For more information:
Dr. Kendra Armstrong, PhD, Co-Founder and CEO
Crop Convergence