The agricultural sector is currently facing pressure due to population growth, climate change and labour shortages. It is estimated that food production must increase by 60 to 70% worldwide to meet the requirements of the growing population. Climate change and consequent changing environments present a threat to many crops by altering rain patterns, temperatures, and soil composition and by shifting the duration of seasons. All this creates a need for growers to adapt, respond swiftly and build resilience.
In terms of land usage, agriculture currently occupies 39% of ice-free land. The yields from the same type of crop differ vastly from one region to another, indicating a need for more optimal farming practices to balance out this yield gap. Today’s farming industry accounts for 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions, uses up 70% of freshwater, and causes 78% of water pollution.
Growers are constantly catering to their plants, providing them with water, fertiliser, and pesticides whenever needed. Crop protection against disruptive weeds, insects and pests usually entails the use of products that have negative effects on the soil’s composition and the biodiversity of the surrounding areas. Growers thus require new technologies to help them keep their crops healthy, both in current and future climates. Healthier crops lead to healthier businesses by reducing the need for additional inputs to keep the plants flourishing and by increasing yields per square metre.
Vivent proposes a real-time diagnostic tool that allows growers and scientists to “listen to what plants are saying”. When plants are trying to communicate internally, they use one of three mechanisms: chemical signalling, mechanical signalling, or electrical signalling. Vivent taps into electrical signalling through electrodes and then interprets the signals to understand what the plant is “thinking” through machine-learning.
This deep-tech solution allows growers to determine the health condition of their plants hour-by-hour. They know how their plants are responding to various inputs in real time. It also allows growers to see if the plants are suffering from a disease, drought stress, insect infestation or nutrient deficiencies at the earliest possible moment, days – or, in some cases, even weeks – before visual symptoms appear.
Growers receive automated crop stress alerts and actionable insights so they know how to intervene. The technology thus enables the grower to take corrective action at a much earlier point in time.
In addition to the occasional problems plants are facing, the technology allows growers to identify the times of the day during which plants grow the least, determine the cause and limit it as much as possible. The elimination of the worst hours of the day for the plants increases the overall yield of crops considerably.
Vivent is a prime example of a business that is driving positive change and building a sustainable business without compromising on either front. Their patented real-time crop health monitoring has proven to increase crop yields by 10% on average – and on occasion up to 50% – creating a strong return on investment for growers. By introducing more precision and timeliness to the growers’ interventions to the crops, overall energy use, water, fertiliser consumption, and labour costs are reduced, driving costs down.
Vivent’s technology allows for optimal resource optimisation by informing growers when exactly plants require water, fertiliser, nutrients, or other forms of intervention. Overall waste of such resources is therefore considerably reduced. Additionally, the pre-emptive interventions decrease overall pre-harvest loss, reducing waste in the food supply chain.
The improved management of crop protection against pests improves soil health and reduced the detrimental effects on biodiversity and water. Furthermore, by observing the plants’ reactions, Vivent’s technology can measure the effectiveness of products that are more environmentally friendly and guide growers’ choices in this direction. Their technology is also being used to research plant stressors and develop solutions that could help build a more resilient agricultural sector and increase global food security. They have built up the world’s largest library of plant signals.
The main UN SDG addressed by Vivent is SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. Vivent is also contributing to SDG 2: Zero Hunger, SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation, and SDG 15: Life on Land.