AI-powered cameras spot cultivation issues 24/7

“I grew up on a farm,” says Asaf Levy, co-founder and CEO of MyCrops. “My parents have struggled with cultivation issues for as long as I can remember. You need to detect cultivation issues in a timely fashion; it’s a problem in the entire agricultural industry.” Then, Asaf met Assaf Gavish – co-founder and Chief Scientist at MyCrops – at Tel-Aviv University, while they were both doing an MBA. “When the cannabis industry started to become mainstream in 2016, I was doing my MBA where I met my business partner Assaf,” Asaf recounts. “He told me he had an idea for using AI technology to detect cultivation issues. We then decided to start with cannabis because, compared to other crops where growers have centuries-worth of experience, cannabis is a new commercial crop that lacks much of the relevant knowledge.”

Starting with a mobile app
The idea was to start with a mobile app. “Using our image processing abilities to spot problems in the crop, notify the grower and offer ways to solve them,” Asaf says. “They call cannabis a weed for a reason: it’s easy to grow, but it’s hard to get it right and reach its full potential.” The moment MyCrops was established, Asaf and his partner flew to Humboldt County to learn the intricacies of growing cannabis at scale firsthand. “Together with our team of agronomists, we have created a unique dataset – the beating heart of MyCrops.”

Learn more about MyCrops 

With the app serving as a massive data crowd-sourcing tool, while in-house agronomists label each image with its correct issue, MyCrops was able to make a database of cannabis disease images, and for each, a solution is provided. “This database is constantly evolving,” Asaf remarks. “We have close to a million users worldwide, and we take the time to listen to their feedback, adjust our algorithms and build new features accordingly. After perfecting our algorithms, we then found a way to implement them in large-scale operations. As a result, today, we offer an expert agronomist's eye that scans commercial facilities 24/7.”

AI-powered cameras 
Installing this system is particularly simple, according to Asaf. “We use off the shelf cameras and match them to the specific infrastructure plan. This creates a cost-effective solution that allows growers to install MyCrops in their facility with ease and peace of mind”.

Aphid detection by MyCrops AI system 

Many growers have already experienced what MyCrops can do for their cultivation. “At one of our client's facilities, our system spotted a hotspot nutrient burn on several plants,” Asaf recounts. “So, the system alerted the grower, who went to check the plants and found out that the nutrient pump wasn’t working properly. On another farm, our system found a bud-rot hotspot, a week before harvest. The grower could then remove the specific plants just in time, so that a large portion of the crop was saved.”

Learn more about MyCrops

As Asaf's stories demonstrate, early observation of a potentially disastrous issue can mean the difference between great success and utter failure. “With MyCrops, you basically have an agronomist constantly checking your plants 24/7,” he says. “Equally important, MyCrops reduces the consumption of crop protection solutions. Growers tend to spray plants as a preventative measure, but that’s also because they can’t be with their plants 24/7. With MyCrops, you would spray only those hotspots which are in trouble, and then just tend to the rest of the crop by using a proper IPM regiment.”

Cannabis growers are proving to the horticulture industry that there are a lot of new technological solutions that can drive up the efficiency of an entire agricultural operation. “Cannabis growers are pushing forward the entire horticulture industry,” he says. “We noticed that non cannabis greenhouse operators are starting to realize that some innovative solutions can make a crop better, and they see their cannabis colleagues invest capital in advanced technologies. We are now seeing tech from cannabis is indeed spreading out to other crops. I really think that cannabis legalization will be good not only for the cannabis industry, but it will also be a crucial point for horticulture as a whole. Our end goal is to enable autonomous agriculture, and we believe cannabis is the perfect crop to start with.”

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