Artificial intelligence hunts ragweed or why Proofminder was awarded as the most innovative AgTech startup
Budapest, 07/12/2021 - The Agtech Summit and demo-day at the end of November closed the 2021 innovation programme of the National Chamber of Agriculture. The main event of the day was the presentation of the startups participating in the program, in particular, the selection of the most innovative startup, which this year was awarded to Proofminder, the platform that helps to recognize crops and weeds with artificial intelligence. The company tested its solution in a three-month project with Corteva Agriscience, which allows for targeted ragweed eradication on thousands of hectares by analyzing drone footage.
The problem of weeding affects all plants and is causing serious damage to agricultural production. Ragweed is also extremely allergenic, with 77 million people projected to be affected in Europe by 2050. This is one of the great challenges facing the agroindustry and the food supply chain. Eradicating ragweed in the environment of other dicotyledonous plants, especially sunflowers, is a particular challenge. Although a new herbicide is now available thanks to Corteva’s new innovation, which allows effective control of ragweed in sunflower fields, accurate spatial identification of ragweed infection by air has not yet been resolved. Proofminder made a breakthrough in this area.
The platform allows you to determine the economically and environmentally ideal approach by identifying ragweed and other weeds. The results can be evaluated by specialists in a digital environment on a map and with the help of the system, they can make an accurate application plan for treatment with either a precision field sprayer or a drone.
“Special drone footage from the area is loaded into Proofminder’s system, which we’ve trained to detect and distinguish between useful plants and harmful weeds” – explained Norbert Havas, the company’s chief technology officer. “By identifying areas covered with ragweed, it calculates the degree of infection. During the project, we found that ragweed covered 71.45% of the area, which without intervention causes significant damage to the crop.” – he explained, breaking down the essence of the winning project.
The recognition of weeds provides an opportunity to estimate the weed cover of the areas and to determine the weed composition so that the same crop averages can be achieved with more environmentally friendly protection.
“We need to supply the growing population in ever-shrinking production areas. A key issue is to ensure that all crops receive maximum care with the least environmental impact for efficient and sustainable farming. Thanks to artificial intelligence, we now have the opportunity to set up a virtual farmer next to each sunflower.” – the motivation speech of the program manager of the National Chamber of Agriculture.
“On the one hand, the incubation program provided a unique opportunity for testing and, on the other hand, it showed us the direction in which we need to continue to develop over the next year and a half. ” – said Norbert Havas, adding “Our team is now looking for an investor to implement the product development plans and to introduce our solution to the wider Hungarian and international markets, and to expand the team to achieve these goals.”
The company was founded at the beginning of 2021 by a team of three people with IT, business development and enterprise experience. The company has prepared its marketable product via bootstrapping without investor help. The first large corporate customers and partners have already started to use it in the 2021 agricultural season. The team is now looking for an investor and will use the capital to further develop their product and to carry out intensive go-to-market activities.
About NAK TechLab
NAK TechLab is the incubation program of the National Chamber of Agriculture, which aims to find and accelerate the growth of the most innovative solutions of the Hungarian agricultural sector and food industry, thus making industry and the market more competitive, sustainable and environmentally conscious.
About Corteva Agriscience
Corteva Agriscience™ is a publicly listed, global, purely agricultural company that offers producers around the world one of the most complete portfolios in the industry – including a balanced and varied combination of seed, crop protection and digital solutions – that focus on maximizing productivity to increase yield and profitability. Its best-known product brands in agriculture, as well as industry-leading product and technology research, define Corteva’s role in stimulating growth, so the company is committed to working with stakeholders throughout the food chain system and will do everything it can to improve the quality of life of producers and consumers, maintaining this process for generations to come.