Our tools, services and solutions are built on a combination of technology (hardware and software) and agronomic knowledge. Their purpose is to collect and interpret data, and to give the best recommendations possible to farmers (or other stakeholders), in terms of water, soil and nutrition management.
These tools and services improve our overall crop nutrition solutions by supporting the farmer with in-time and precise application.
Digital farming as we see it has the potential to revolutionize agriculture and bring significant benefits for farmers and the society overall, as we need new ways to grow more food more sustainably. Concretely, it means applying new technologies such as data science, advanced sensors in the field and from space, digital communication channels, and automation on the field. This way more and more farmers have access to better insights to take more optimal decisions, drive up yield, reduce waste, and – particularly in emerging markets such as in Asia – drive up wealth in rural areas.
For crop nutrition, for instance, it will mean finding the optimum fertilization program for individual fields, helping farmers to decide when and how much to apply, and react to variations in different parts of a field.
We in Yara are very excited about these opportunities, as it also offers us new ways to apply Yara’s knowledge in the field, and thus scale up our opportunities to positively impact the future of agriculture.
Here are some reflections on key traits of the future of agriculture:
Productivity: the future of agriculture will unlock yield reserves that we critically need to sustainably feed a growing population. This will mean smarter farming, and helping millions of farmers take optimized decisions.
Connectivity: we clearly see the future of the farm more connected. Different devices will collect information and – in a quite automated way – lead to direct optimized application: the “internet of things” on the farm.
Dynamics: we see a highly dynamic environment, with fast development of technologies, and quite substantial changes to the way farming is done. This is also driven by “agile development” – high paced technology development that is characteristic for Digital Farming applications.
We can’t predict the future, but what we do know is that it will be an exciting future, with lots of opportunities for farmers to exploit need ways to increase productivity, while protecting the earth’s limited resources.
Simply put, we need to find a way to produce much more food, with less resources in a more responsible way. The first major step-growth in agricultural production happed more than 100 years ago with the advent of nitrate based mineral fertilizer. Already then Yara played a pivotal role.
As our challenges grow – demand for higher quality food, climate change, water scarcity, pollution, reducing biodiversity, significant population growth, wealth driving higher value nutrition – we need new weapons to even maintain, let alone improve the way we grow food. We believe Digital Farming is one key answer to these challenges.
This is also why Yara has and will be continuing to invest in digital farming – we see it as a critical toolbox towards our mission to sustainably feed the world and protect the planet.
Yara has an embedded culture of R&D and innovation – we have always been at the forefront of crop nutrition innovation.
In this spirit, Yara was one of the early movers in precision farming more than 10 years ago, with an advanced offer of sensor-driven tools and solutions, like the N-Sensor, picture technology that allows to diagnose a field’s health with your cell phone camera, or our water sensor technology, to optimize irrigation and thus save one of the planet’s most scarce resources.
Given the opportunities digital technology offers, it is our clear strategy to accelerate our investments in digital farming and expand our position in this area.
Tech solutions open new opportunities to optimize. By combining large amounts of data that we as humans cannot directly process, we can conduct more granular optimization, and for instance adjust the way we treat different parts of a field.
Likewise, digital technology enables us to address a key problem in smallholder markets, which is how to bring know-how to remote farms, and reach millions of farmers. Imagine a world where such farmers can access better decision support – we can unlock tremendous potential!
Technology is of course a part of a holistic system. Certainly, high quality physical inputs, optimized seeds, infrastructure, etc. need to also be further optimized!
In Yara Digital Farming we pursue a broad agenda. Some initiatives aim for higher connectivity of our tools and services, some for adding new and more advanced sensors and ways to collect information, such as satellites. Some are directed to optimizing the digital information and knowledge flows with farmers or food companies. In some areas, we invest into advanced modelling and big data, for instance, to simulate the optimal treatment of a farm depending on the weather.
In addition to technology development, we also build partnerships with other players. Clearly no player will be successful in such a dynamic space totally on their own and together with IBM we aim to build the world’s most comprehensive digital farming platform.
Finally, we optimize digital commercial models, that will allow us to capture a fair share of the value we create.
We see ourselves as innovators, with a high pace of development.
The partnership between Yara and IBM maximizes the potential of both organizations by merging highly complementary capabilities. Combining Yara’s thorough expertise and footprint in crop nutrition and agronomy with IBM’s digital platforms, expertise, technology and services in data, AI, Big Data, Block Chain and Research, Yara and IBM will collaborate to establish new business models, new expertise and new experiences to make the world’s food supply chain more efficient and more sustainable.
The platform will allow all farmers access through a user friendly front end frame. Then they will be able to access world leading digital services that are relevant and easy to use. This will cover a broad range of services for the farm, and over time also invite other players to join with their services. Through this, farmers productivity and output will increase, and we will be able to address yield opportunities we critically need to cure global starvation and solve the issue with limited farm land in the world.
One example is combining IBM’s world leading weather insights through the Watson capability, with Yara’s agronomic modelling and insights. Weather is one of the most determining factors in agriculture, and farmer’s yields – in smallholder markets even livelihoods – depend on responding to the weather optimally. Through combining these capabilities and innovating new weather-related solutions for farmers, the partnership aims to make a real difference. The clear aim there is to give farmers not only a weather forecast, but – through Yara’s digital agronomy knowledge- actionable and real-time insights, tailored to their field.
This is the first platform that combines world class technology and agronomy to both professional and smallholder farmers delivered by Yara and IBM with complimentary knowledge and worldwide coverage. Both companies are investing in agriculture related research.
One example is applying machine learning and AI in agriculture to an extend never done before. By applying IBM’s world class AI capability with the unmatched starting point for learning from Yara’s digital agronomy models, R&D trials and insights, and ground truthing through Yara’s agronomic footprint in 65 countries in the world, farmers can benefit from actionable insights and recommendations that can be trusted more than any other company in the world.
We can innovate broader and faster by combining farmer-centric, digital agronomy-induced innovation through Yara’s Digital Farming unit, and technology-forward innovation in IBM, which is an unmatched opportunity to develop truly game-changing innovation that works and is easy to use.
We are convinced that digital farming can be a key contributor to exactly this objective! Certainly, in sync with other efforts and in collaboration with partners across the globe.