Published: December 5, 2019
Ukko Agro is a Toronto-based company that is using their end-to-end internet of things (IoT) solution to help farmers grow in a safer and more sustainable way. CENGN is no stranger to Ukko Agro, as they successfully completed their first CENGN project last year, to validate the functionality of their solution. Read the Project 1 success story here! Since then, their team has doubled, and we are happy to have them back for another round to prepare their solution to be applied across different farming crops and scaled to handle more customers.
Protecting Crops with Pesticides
Farmers are an essential part of Canada’s economy. The crops they produce feed millions of people, both here in Canada and around the world. However, farmers lose more than $400 billion worth of crops a year due to disease and pest attacks. This has led farmers to be extra cautious when it comes to protecting their crops which often results in more chemical sprays than required. After all, they are growing food for a growing population, and we need sustainable crop output.
However, trading monetary loss due to spoiled crops with monetary waste due to overuse of pesticides is not optimal. Fact is, not all areas or crops on a farm will be at risk of disease or pest attacks at the same time. Not having the information necessary to know where disease or pest control is needed means staying safe with excess pesticide applications, causing unnecessary expenditures for farmers as well as an increased environmental impact.
Figuring out when and where to apply pesticides is tricky, and it is unreliable for a farmer to know using macro/regional weather reports as a guide due to the high variability and different operational practices in each field. However, with Ukko Agro’s IoT solution, they will no longer have to.
Helping Farmers Take Control of their Pesticide Use
One of the many powers of IoT is that it can transform traditional industries, like agriculture, by using sensors and enhanced networking to collect and analyze data. Ukko Agro does just that by providing farmers with an end-to-end solution that will tell them exactly when and where to apply pesticides on an individual field level. Ukko Agro is currently expanding their platform to also predict irrigation and fertilizer application timing in addition to pesticide application timing.
Ukko Agro places environment and soil sensors across a farmer’s crop fields gathering data every 15 minutes and forecasting weather data through its partnership with IBM. The sensor data is sent to the Ukko Agro platform, which also considers seed variety and other key agronomic factors to make predictions about disease and pest attacks, and creates optimizations for when and where to spray pesticides. Those recommendations are then sent to farmers through text messages or Ukko’s app, ensuring that they know how to best handle the fields throughout the day.
This system has helped farmers be more prudent on pesticide applications and reduce crop losses, saving them money and limiting the amount of pesticides on their product. In fact, their first CENGN project demonstrated that farmers could reduce pesticides by 25% and save an average of $40 per acre in pesticide application cost. While this solution clearly benefits farmers, there are many other stakeholders who come out on top thanks to Ukko Agro’s solution.
For example, insurance companies will benefit in a reduction of claims and payouts related to crop loss, and food companies will benefit from buying more sustainably grown crops which is a key demand by end consumers.
On the Path to Commercial Growth
Ukko Agro’s first project tested the functionality of their solution predicting required pesticide usage for preventing potato blight for potato crops. Ukko Agro is looking to expand their commercial reach with their solution by supporting larger acreages, multiple different crops, and targeting other critical decisions on topics like irrigation and fertilizer application. With this new functionality, Ukko Agro’s solution will be able to offer support for large scale agricultural operations.
In order to ready themselves to enter the market with these new features, Ukko Agro will be completing end-to-end validation of their solution through a CENGN scale testing project. By the end of the project, the company is planning to ensure that the platform can meet or exceed the company’s goal of supporting 100+ growers across thousands of acres across North America.
Developing a Project Space on the CENGN Infrastructure
Ukko Agro has been given a cloud tenancy on the CENGN Infrastructure. The project space will host the Ukko Agro platform and have both simulated sensors running on virtual machines (VMs) and 10 real-world sensors driving traffic to it. As the large amount of traffic is sent to the Ukko Agro platform, the company will be able to monitor their solution’s resource expenditure and functionality under higher capacities.
Through this process, Ukko Agro is able to test the scalability of their platform without the lengthy and costly process of doing live testing. Being able to leverage CENGN’s resources at no cost can greatly accelerate Ukko Agro’s time to reach the market with their new solution.
Upon entering the market, Ukko Agro will still be benefiting from the completion of this project. Ukko Agro will not only gain exposure to CENGN’s large ecosystem of members and partners, but also validate the solutions for the crops they can support as well as define the resource requirements for serving their customers. This will be extremely helpful as Ukko Agro begins to expand their market share and bring in new clients.
CENGN is looking forward to having Ukko Agro back once again for their second project!
Ukko Agro is a growing Canadian business that is using the services at CENGN through the Next Generation Network Program (NGNP). The NGNP is a Government of Ontario program offered through a partnership between CENGN and the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) that is providing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Ontario access to the CENGN Testbed. CENGN’s digital infrastructure is connecting SMEs like Ukko Agro to state-of-the-art equipment and network services, which will allow these companies to test and validate their solutions.
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