A very nice piece from Nicolas Chevillotte Uribe-Holguin was published today on Linkedin. Nicolas is Digital Advisor (Consumer Goods & AgriTech) in Microsoft Aspire MBA Program (a Microsoft Digital Advisory Service). These services help organizations as they reimagine and transform customer engagements, employee experiences, business models and operations. On October, 19th he wrote an article to highlight crop management  profitable solutions to protect the environment. He chose to take as an example itk agriperformance and sustainable supply chain solutions.

 

“What does the ideal solution look like? Amongst the cost-effective mitigation options, the IPCC suggests cropland management. To illustrate how technology can impact crop management, we had the privilege of interviewing Bennet Holmes, Business Development Director for ITK – a Microsoft partner.

Founded in 2003, ITK has developed a number of decision support tools (DST) helping farmers enhance decision-making on crop management while adapting to new environmental, climatic, and economic challenges.

The company has established itself as an expert in agronomic modeling, that is models to simulate and predict the response of crops to their environment. “We have a deep understanding of the mechanics of plant growth and thus our tools help farmers to identify the main factors explaining its yield” says Bennet for the Montpellier-based SME. ITK Agri-intelligence can even go further by separating the impact of the actions taken by the farmer on yield (e.g. fertilizer treatment) from that of external factors (e.g. weather).

 An example of a solution: crop management.

ITK’s Agri-intelligence addresses two different markets with five main use cases:

  • Agri-performance:
  1.  Improve either the quality or the yield of crops using agronomic modelling. Based on data such as the type of plant, its geolocation, sowing date, soil data and other farming practices, the software will recommend on a daily basis concrete actions to farmers on irrigation and fertilizer use.
  2. Animal monitoring: understand the behavior and habits of animals to predict and act to certain leading indicators (e.g. heat detection to find the optimal moment for artificial insemination and reduce calf mortality).

 

  •  Sustainable Supply Chain:
  1. Forecasting harvests, Sales and Operations planning, predict yields (sometimes on a weekly basis) and thus anticipate sourcing requirements to achieve production output.
  2. For the soil’s biological health, follow levels of carbon sequestration in the soil due to changes in farming practices or provide ways to trace food production practices all the way back from the plate to the field.
  3. Insurance coverage: providing indices to the insurance industry to determine the true level of risk and thereby increasing the accuracy of insurance payouts by quantifying the (real) impact of climate change on the yield on a farm.

Bennet sees the thin margins in the sector as one of the biggest challenges to increase farmer adoption. However, with the proliferation of data in the agricultural sector with tools such as the ones developed by ITK, new business models can be explored to support farmers. “Plant photosynthesis removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and creates oxygen (…) so fields, more specifically soil can act as a carbon sink through sequestering greenhouse gasses.”
These sustainable agricultural practices tackle climate change and could be promoted with financial incentives: “Helping farmers by paying them for their carbon sequestration would protect the planet and reduce the risks to agriculture. CO2 would be removed from the atmosphere and stored in the soil, data would prove it and farmers would increase their profitability”.

ITK, with its simulation models is in a unique position to explain and justify scientifically just how much carbon is being stored and why. See ITK recent highly innovative Kilimo project developed in collaboration with Airbus in Kenya. Helping farmers enhance their agricultural practices to restore soils warrants far greater attention from policymakers and corporations to fight climate change.”

Many thanks to Nicolas Chevillotte Uribe-Holguin for this this article enlightening on our digital era!

Read the article on Linkedin : Crop productivity in the context of climate change

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