Date: Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Using an array of information and years of research, crop yields can be increased while reducing fertilizer costs and saving water. Taking advantage of open data, the SMART! system is designed to offer precise nutrient formulations, regulate fertilizer amounts and offer directions on mixing and applying fertilizers.

At the heart of this new innovative commercial software, aimed at the farming and agribusiness sector, is a set of algorithms that draws salient information from years of agricultural data, extracting answers needed to help farmers anywhere in the world mix the correct amount of fertilizer to achieve optimum crop growth.

Utilizing open data enables the system to tap into historic and up-to-date details on crop types, water conditions and fertilizer characteristics, intelligently directing farmers to mix the exact formula.

Guy Sela, CEO at SMART! says, “at the base of our system is a layer of information that comes from all types of data bases. It’s open data, but in its raw form it is not readily availabl to the average farmer or agronomist. All this raw data, once it’s understood and applied, can address crop nutrition anywhere in the world.”

The open data at the heart of the SMART! system is made up of thousands of reports, figures and research results. SMART! processes all of this data, effectively channelling it into solving the fertilizer usage of a multitude of growers, focusing results to account for thousands of variables. It is the company’s investment in creating the fact-finding algorithms that make the open data valuable, translating data into practical results.

Sela says his team has been working on the fertilizer mixing software for 10 years. Much of that time has been focused on R & D, only going to market about a year and half ago. “We started as a very small business. We sold fertilizer mixing solutions to a few growers while at the same time developing the technology that makes SMART! such a powerful and versatile service. Now that we’ve brought an investor on board we are scaling up the business,” he says.

SMART! has attracted mainly arable farmers so far and this has brought the company customers from South Africa, South America, the USA and Australia. Sela insists it is helping produce remarkable results, with yields of corn increasing from 20% to 70% when farmers use his company’s system. The software is designed to improve the  exact mix needed to get the best performance from plants and is geared to deal with a wide range of ingredients, soil types and water conditions.

Sela says the strength of SMART! is its ability to deliver instant fertilizer recipes that can build up maximum yields with zero mistakes and minimizing costs. The company does not only report successwith corn. It has also seen new business come from the soya bean and vegetable sectors.

Most recently there has been increased takeup of the system by coffee and sugar cane farmers. All this success is based on effectively directing open data to the needs of individual growers around the world. The SMART! process is downloadable onto a smartphone or tablet, providing a series of  menus targeting grower’s needs. The ability to extract relevant information from open data sources and apply it to different quantities and mixes of fertilizers suitable for a wide variety of soils and water types means it has potential for environments everywhere.

The vast amount of data lying behind the user-friendly system is not necessarily apparent at first glance. Growers are only required to enter their specific soil and water types against the crop they wish to cultivate. The software processes the information and designs an optimal recipe using the fertilizers and other products already on hand.

Sela says, “This cuts out unnecessary buying or wasting of fertilizer.”

SMART! is a young company, but already its application is attracting the attention of agricultural development agencies and Sela is looking at ways to broaden the reach of the SMART! technology.

“We are investigating ways we can offer this solution to small farmers. We need to work out how to make it cost effective for them and are investigating ways to introduce it to rice farmers in Vietnam. There’s over one million hectares we could support with precise fertilizer mixing instructions. It’ll make a major difference for the farmers and help the environment.” he says.

But for now, the company’s main customers are large commercial farms. Corn is where it made early inroads but the concept is moving into the vegetable and tobacco sectors as word spreads. 

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Type of resource: Document, Success stories