Taking AgriTech To The Next Stage

Agricolus

9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 15. Life on Land

Overview

Agricolus offers a suite of products and solutions to its customer base consisting of farmer associations, medium/large farms, and multi-national Agroholding companies. The range of products offered on its convenient channels includes decision support systems to provide superior insights on disease warnings, treatment plans, fertilizer management, and weather forecasting. To facilitate the digitization journey of their clients, Agricolus has a well-defined road map consisting of maturity stages and pillars of support. The digitization phases can be from field mapping, crop scouting to crop operations, and task management, and they can all be driven through the Agricolus application, available across a multitude of devices. Through the efficient collection, analysis, and expertise it is able to provide GIS-enabled services such as satellite imagery, crop scouting, weather forecasting, and expertise-backed process checklists to promote best practices for specific crops and land areas.

The solutions provided by Agricolus are centered on increasing farm productivity and preserving optimal biodiversity. Agricolus aims to closely collaborate with customers and be their partner in the digitalization journey of the business models. The Precision Farming techniques offered through the Agricolus App supplemented with machine learning, data analytics, and predictive modeling technology, enable sustainable land use without excessive plot damage while improving crop quality/yield and reducing overall expenditure.

Authors

Ritupriya Vyas

Ritupriya Vyas

Rachit Ravindra

Rachit Ravindra

School

TIAS School for Business and Society

TIAS School for Business and Society

Professor

Mirjam Minderman

Mirjam Minderman

Innovation

“The idea of innovation in Agricolus is that it’s not an integration platform but the platform was built inside the company. Secondly, we have a deep knowledge of remote sensing models to generate our own processes which are provided in the market for a free or a lower price as we are the owners. Third, we are composing a digital path for the partners and we can deliver the needed sensors for capturing and managing information of the farm. Designed specific forecast models built by a very highly skilled team of - Agronomists and Developers, GIS Technicians, and Data Scientists.”

– Andrea Cruciani




Taking AgriTech To The Next Stage

Inspiration

The initial idea came from one of the co-founders, Antonio Natale (Co-founder, COO), who had a vision to use GIS (Geographic Information System) mapping to build a platform to enable Precision Farming. Although precision farming was widely being implemented in the USA and Australia, there was no company in Italy providing such services. In 2011, Antonio discussed his idea with Andrea Cruciani (Co-founder, CEO) and the software development company TeamDev, highly interested in GIS. Cruciani said in an interview, “We started to realize that it was important to create a network with scientific research teams and technological partners.” With a desire to digitalize the agriculture industry, Agricolus was registered in 2017 as a for-profit startup which supports farmers and other agricultural operators by developing solutions for Smart Agriculture. Cruciani comments, "The idea is to provide incremental digitalization based on the farmer’s needs.”

The motivation for creating this Precision Farming platform stems from the need for farmers to have real-time information about their fields for effective crop-management. Precision Farming can also help farmers detect and prevent climate change and diseases. Thereby, reducing the farmers' overall costs of crop maintenance.

Overall impact

Agricolus is on its way to building a one-stop shop ecosystem for a range of products catering to the specific needs of customers. The business model of integrating multiple third-party applications, leveraging and providing GIS abilities to clients, insight generating expertise, and customization capabilities seek to create and design the best processes and practices for explicit land and crop instances. Additionally, Agricolus is continuously building its work-force to enrich the derived data insights. Elaborating on her team, Crusiani mentions, "Our team comprises of PhDs, skilled marketing and development teams. We are putting together the industrial approach and constantly researching – which is not so typical.”

This company strives to make the process of innovation in the area of agriculture continuous and sustainable. Knowledge generated through the constant flow of data, research, modeling, and collaboration will be incredibly valuable to standardize certain practices in the industry. These practices could even be adopted globally to improve overall food quality and ensure the tenets of sustainable production and consumption. Finally, the value proposition of Agricolus comes in the form of being a digital partner for their clients in the agriculture sector. Interfacing existing technologies with the platform and enriching data push the boundaries conceptually in the way collaboration and data modeling can change the economics of agriculture. Agricolus is also seeking to deploy a plug and play product known as AgriPlug, that connects Agri-Hardware with the Agricolus infrastructure. At a small-scale commercial stage, the company is generating a buzz in the smart and precision farming circles.

“We have already satisfied customers, a large network among the value chain and top-level reputation among technical partners, we have built some strategic Italian and international alliances that allows us to work with top player suppliers and research centers. We have and highly skilled team members, proprietary professional forecasting algorithms, and we are working on the AgriPlug device that will allow us to require a patent for the whole ecosystem.”

- Andrea Cruciani

Business benefit

Farmers are facing multiple challenges such as climate change, global market competition, pests, and diseases. These existing pressures are suppressing profit margins and increasing the need for higher yields, productivity, and use of more diverse farming components. Without optimal risk management, farm management, and stock management farmers face the brunt of these dwindling margins. Agri-Tech and advances in the field have been scattered and not widely known. Integrating these technologies at scale could drastically improve the quality of data lakes accumulated and eventually provide rich decision drivers for various aspects of crop management. The resulting knowledge, capabilities, and automation would undoubtedly increase farmers' quantities and qualities across their crops.

Key Outcomes :

  • Reduced use of treatments and fertilizers, saving input by 20%
  • Savings on several crop inputs such as seed, fertilizer and chemicals by about 15%
  • Generate savings of $210/ha for corn and up to $200/ha for rice

Social and environmental benefit

Societal Benefits:

The company is dedicated to helping farmers adopt digitalization. Agricolus identified the need to train farmers to enable them to understand and utilize the technology available to them.

“We know that this is the future of farming, but most often, farmers don’t have the knowledge to use the technology. We realized it's important to provide the necessary training. We created the Agricolus Academy, a format where we provide a free 4-hour class for farmers and other agricultural experts. These trainings would be provided in the form of an e-learning course which is set to be released in April. ”

- Andrea Cruciani

Such training provides an overview of Precision Farming techniques to optimize farmers' yield by studying and practicing on the Agricolus platform. Furthermore, on March 18, 2020, Agricolus released a new version of its platform to give farmers new opportunities during COVID-19. This update will provide farmers with free satellite information on up to 50 hectares. Cruciani stresses this point when she said, "Farmers in Europe can use this version for free to help monitor the fields remotely with the help of satellite imagery.”

Environmental Benefit:

Precision Farming tools developed by Agricolus directly help reduce the negative ecological impact of a company by analyzing waste distribution in farming and industrial production. Agricolus recognizes economic and environmental sustainability as some of its core values. Cruciani notes, "Our goal is to make AgriTech sustainable. The path towards digitization needs to be sustainable in all ways – economic, social, and environmental.”

Agricolus helps farmers and agricultural operators analyze the environmental impact of a company, their plot & floral situation, food chain analysis, and a variety of other measurements to make a real difference in worldly farming operations and efficiency.

Interview

Andrea Crusiani, CEO

Photo of interviewee

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Agricolus

Agricolus

Perugia, PG, IT

Business Website: https://www.agricolus.com/en/

Year Founded: 2015

Number of Employees: 11 to 50

Agricolus is an Italian Agri-tech company that is spearheading digitalization in the agriculture sector by creating an ecosystem that can be personalized to client needs. Its platform structure aims to improve infrastructure and innovation in the industry. The company aims to meet the challenge of meeting the growing global demand and increasing yield quality. The ensuing efforts have helped the company increase efforts to improve the biodiversity of local areas. Agricolus is currently at the forefront of being the integrative platform for Smart and Precision Farming techniques.