Modernising Agriculture Through Predictive Farming

Tel Aviv Based Start-up is Using Technology to Upgrade Farming in Israel and USA

01.09.2018 | by Kezia Parkins
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Israel-based Taranis is working to improve farm yields and provide farmers with better intelligence on factors affecting farming through high precision aerial surveillance imagery. Farmers lose more than $300 billion every year due to lack of farming data — the mobile app by Taranis aims to change that.

Taranis describes its technology as a scalable predictive analytics platform that helps predict, identify and prevent pest and disease pressure in any climate. The platform uses multiple sources of data and information, including sensor-driven field data, aerial imagery and weather analytics as well as tracking farmers’ daily tasks to provide an early-warning system for crop disease and pests. Described as “the world’s first air scouting capability” – Taranis helps farmers monitor their fields and pre-empt potential problems to make informed decisions and then act on them.

The app employs three layers of exciting proprietary technology to paint a picture of upcoming climate conditions. Firstly, the aerial imagery layer captures visualizations at a resolution of 0.5 millimetres per pixel — a significant improvement compared to standard resolutions that are between five and 25 centimetres.

Next, Taranis maintains its own weather prediction model that actively forecasts field-level weather patterns at four kilometres per pixel. This is a dramatic improvement over current global models delivering forecasts at 26 kilometres per pixel, according to the company.

Finally, a machine learning component is designed to constantly improve the model’s predictions to improve accuracy across varying geographic regions.

The app also uses AI deep learning tech to identify crop health issues.

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Taranis At Work
Source: Start-Up Nation

“The company is a merger of my two greatest passions, given my family background in agriculture in Israel for three generations and my professional career in the world of technology and big data where I served in an elite intelligence unit in the Israeli Military of Defense for nine years”
– Ofir Schlam, CEO, Taranis

His co-founders offer expertise in meteorology statistics and machine learning. Although combining so many different components may seem cumbersome or unruly for some, for Schlam it is the secret ingredient.

“Only by analyzing multiple layers of data and information at the same time is it possible to create these insights: aerial imagery, satellite imagery, sensor data, weather forecast, and farmer practices like scouting and task management. Combining deep learning with real events helps the platform’s insights become more accurate over time.”
– Ofir Schlam

The platform is primarily geared toward large commercial farming operations cultivating standard commodity crops like soybeans, corn, wheat, cotton, sugar cane and potatoes. Taranis reports increasing the acreage it operates on by 2,000% in one year and reports that the platform is being used to manage millions of acres of farmland in Argentina, Brazil, Israel, Russia and the United States.

One of Taranis’s biggest successes has been predicting Asian Soybean Rust in Brazil — a disease that is devastating for soybeans and farmers in that region.

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"We believe that we have a head start on predicting crop disease because most of our potential competitors are still focusing on optimizing irrigation, planting and harvesting decision support, and fertility use. So, the classic competitors who have resources like Climate Corp or FarmLogs could actually be potential partners because they don’t have crop disease prediction in their platforms"
- Ofir Schlam

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