Samsung Galaxy Mobile Device and Knox Solution sow seeds of success for ‘AgTech’ business
Agriculture technology company Croptimistic and its product ecosystem get an automated boost from Samsung devices and solution technology with partner program support
For Canada’s 300,000 farmers, analyzing early-stage crop growth across hundreds or thousands of acres of land can feel like an impossible task. It’s the reason Croptimistic Technology Inc., an international “AgTech” company, began work on a suite of products that would provide farmers with the vital information they need in an efficient and easy-to-access manner.
Croptimistic is best known for their SWAT (Soil, Water, and Topography) MAPS variable rate field mapping and prescription process. This process is used by agronomists and farmers around the world to optimize the rates and placement of their seed and fertilizer. One of Croptimistic’s newest products, the SWAT CAM, was developed to evaluate early-stage crop emergence. Employing an automated camera, the SWAT CAM collects images of crops, which are then subject to machine learning, to deliver a full, early season analysis of crop establishment. Farmers and agronomists use this information to evaluate their SWAT MAPS variable rate prescription strategies.
Prior to the development of the SWAT CAM, Croptimistic’s agronomists were forced to take pictures of vast plots of land manually with a digital camera. These highly trained specialists then had to upload the images and manually count plants emerged within these images and tag the data to a specific management zone and field. This process proved to be time- and cost-intensive. Agronomists were spending too much time on the road capturing images when their skillsets could be better applied analyzing the results. Plus, the sampling resolution of the images across a farm was low and didn’t allow for the in-depth analysis that was needed.
Croptimistic needed a solution that could remotely take photos across thousands of acres. This would help them develop their detailed crop and weed emergence maps that agronomists and farmers use to evaluate crop establishment more easily. They also needed a device that could capture high-quality images at sub-plant level resolution from a vehicle moving at speeds of up to 30 km/hr. With this need identified, the vision for the SWAT CAM solution began to take root.
Finding the right hardware to support their vision meant securing a device with a high-powered camera with several sensors, connectivity to transfer the data, and the processing power to handle the transfer – all in a mobile-friendly package. Thankfully, Samsung was there to help.
Cultivating a Complete Hardware and Software Solution
With its pro-grade, large-aperture camera, the Samsung Galaxy S10 was well equipped to become the foundation of the SWAT CAM solution. Shifting between f/1.5 and f/2.4, the wide aperture on the Galaxy S10 could allow ample light to illuminate the image plane, even at fast speeds and in low light.
“Because the Galaxy S10 is also light, compact and easy to mount to existing agricultural equipment—such as a sprayer that goes over the fields several times a year—it was an ideal hardware fit,” said Derek Rude, VP of Research and Development at Croptimistic.
The company affixed the Galaxy S10 to large agriculture sprayers which administer pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizer. Since the machines were already out in the fields regularly, this would minimize any additional resources required for the data capture process, such as agronomists’ time in-field.
The device also needed to be completely programmable to suit Croptimistic’s software needs, which made the Galaxy S10 a strong choice being within the open, secure Android framework. With the Samsung Knox Platform for Enterprise and the Knox Manage, Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) system, the Galaxy S10 could be configured to remotely capture and transfer a large number of images. This Knox integrated solution runs the autonomous SWAT CAM app that can automatically power-up any device on the network, capture continuous field imagery, and upload those images to Croptimistic’s SWAT Records servers, thanks to the advanced device configuration and management features of the Knox Solution.
Croptimistic also uses the Samsung Knox Manage to remotely monitor the devices and troubleshoot them if needed – especially important given the devices may be located within any field in the world. The Knox Partner Program was integral to making SWAT CAM —the Samsung-powered camera component of the broader product ecosystem— a reality for Croptimistic. The Knox Partner Program afforded Croptimistic a reliable partner that could enable the AgTech company select optimal systems, assets, and product information at every stage of the process, as well as request ongoing support as needed.
“As a member of the Knox Partner Program, we were able to go the extra mile for Croptimistic to ensure the technical validation of their solution. We’re pleased to be able to support them in seeing their idea move from a concept to a fully-fledged, operable solution,” said Rodrigo Gonzalez, Global Alliances Manager, B2B Alliances, Samsung Electronics.
Harvesting Business and Crop Success
Since the early development stage and implementation of Samsung device and Knox Solutions, Croptimistic has collected more than 1.8 million images of 14 different crop types across the country. Now, after a successful beta-release stage, the official product—SWAT CAM—will launch in early 2022, enabling agronomists to run extensive crop surveys with twin Galaxy S10 smartphones mounted on both sides of a standard field sprayer. The benefits of this new process are substantial in terms of labour and cost savings for Croptimistic, and for farmers, enhanced data results in an improved analysis of crop emergence and weed pressure which have a significant impact on crop yield and quality.
“We’re now capturing thousands of times more data points than we were before,” said Rude. “With machine learning, we can distill and compute millions of images and pull together meaningful data for our agronomists to assess. From there, we can identify specific areas of interest [in the field] and deploy highly-trained specialists to the locations that need in-person investigation.”
Typically, a 5,000-acre farm that is spread across 25 square kilometers would require half a day’s work for an agronomist to capture just 50 plant-level images. With a Samsung-powered SWAT CAM, Croptimistic can capture 100,000 images —2,000 times more— with virtually no labour costs since the sprayer is already traversing fields at early crop stages when emergence is critical. The data is automatically uploaded to the SWAT Records central servers, which gives agronomists and farmers the flexibility to analyze data stored over multiple seasons. “The data is also always available, so we can continually add to our knowledge base, better identify trends over time, and continually improve our SWAT MAPS variable rate prescriptions for every SWAT management zone and field for each farm” said Rude.
Mapping Beyond Borders
With its Samsung-enabled SWAT CAM solution, Croptimistic plans to scale its offerings globally as the demand for technologies that map soils, optimize seed and fertility rates, and evaluate early-stage crop establishment, increases. “The sensor tools we use mean that data can be captured economically, and with the Samsung Knox Manage we can manage these tools anywhere in the world from any connected device,” said Rude. “Any way we can improve automation of crop analysis will allow us to better scale our offerings globally, and at a reasonable cost.”
Rude also envisions the SWAT CAM solution having applications beyond broad-acre agriculture, extending to any industry that prioritizes the analysis of soil, water, topography, and plant level data.
With exciting designs for the future, Rude and the rest of the Croptimistic team is focused on making the best solution possible for the agriculture industry and leveraging Samsung technology to help him get there. “We’re all about collecting meaningful agronomic data efficiently and turning it into information that our agronomy partners and their farm customers can use to improve their crop management decisions. The Galaxy S10 with Samsung Knox Solution helps us do that efficiently and affordably, in a way that allows us to bring this technology to more clients at scale.”
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