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SupPlant, an Israeli-based agritech startup is assisting South African farmers to increase their crop yields while reducing water usage with their innovative technology.
The agritech startup claims that it has assisted South African farmers to reduce their water usage by 37% in apple crops, increased the lemon crop yield by 60%, and an increase in macadamia nuts by 21%
In an official interview with Ventureburn, SupPlant explains the aim of the agritech startup.
“Our mission is to equip Farmers and Agri-businesses managing their water challenges with the most relevant and powering actionable agronomic insights.”
Founded in 2012 and officially launching in 2015, SupPlant uses a hardware-software solution in order to achieve an increase in crop yield and reduce water usage.
The startup’s innovative technological solution uses agronomic algorithms, sensors, AI, and cloud-based technology in order to increase crop yield and decrease overall water usage.
SupPlant has received a total of $9-million in funding from two main investors, Mivtah Shamir, a leading Israeli investment company, and Boresight.
Founded by Zohar Ben Ner, an agricultural engineer, SupPlant has made strides in the agritech sphere working alongside South African farmers since 2017.
Understanding plant patterns
SupPlant’s sensors are placed in five locations of the plant; the deep soil, stem, leaf, fruit, and shallow soil. These sensors monitor the following; plant stress, plant fruit and growth patterns, real-time climatic data, water content present in the soil, forecasted climate conditions, and predicted plant growth patterns.
The insightful data gathered aids farmers in making active decisions on their water usage. The data is uploaded into an algorithm in the cloud every 30 minutes, providing accurate information.
SupPlant explains how their technology is unique and aims to aid farmers and contribute positively to the environment.
“Combining Big-Data accumulated over the years with real-time data collected from a vast variety of hardware sensors, expert agronomists and our unique algorithm; We provide high resolution, real-time and forecasted insights and irrigation commands for an accurate irrigation regime and practices, ensuring healthy and robust harvests with the optimum water usage that builds their resilience through time.”
Addressing critical problems in agriculture
SupPlant aims to address and provide an effective solution to the following challenges in the agricultural sector:
Climate change has resulted in an overall increase in flooding and drought disasters, negatively impacting farmer’s crop yields. SupPlant reports that an estimated climate change has caused up to a 50% crop yield reduction, causing 4-billion people to live under severe water stress.
With a globally growing population, SupPlant claims that 593-million additional agricultural hectares will be required to meet the growing global demand.
“By 2050 an expected 25% water deficit-demand supply gap will require real-time adaptable irrigation to compensate for shortages.”
3.Inefficient use of water resources
SupPlant reports that 70% of the world’s water resource is used to irrigate a mere 20% of the world’s land.
“Currently only 5% utilises micro (drip) irrigation.”
Assisting South African farmers
Although based abroad, the agritech startup has worked with several South African farmers to provide them with the necessary tools to maintain a correct irrigation regime all year long, taking into consideration ever-changing environmental conditions and their crop needs.
SupPlant explains how their agritech tool is aiding local farmers in South Africa.
“Using our system, farmers can manage their precious water resources correctly, prevent plant stress, reduce fruit loss, improve production, and maximize their crop potential year after year.”
The agritech startup claims that it has assisted South African farmers to reduce their water usage by 37% in apple crops, increased the lemon crop yield by 60%, and an increase in macadamia nuts by 21%.
“We have been working in the South African market since 2017, starting with two farms in the western cape that yielded impressive results in citrus and apples, and since then we expanded to the northern areas such as Limpopo.”
This overall increase in yield of the lemon by 60% is worth an additional $4500 (R73 841,85) per hectare. (Reported amount at the time of publishing)
With climate change drastically affecting weather patterns and introducing new climatic conditions not experienced before, SupPlant provides accurate and real-time reports and alerts to local farmers.
“Our system takes into account hyper-local weather forecasts and gives the farmer irrigation recommendation for a week ahead. As an example, when a large heatwave is approaching, our system will alert the farmer and recommend the necessary steps needed to overcome this heatwave without suffering crop damage while maintaining a reasonable use of water.”
Featured image: Uri Ben Ner, CEO of SupPlant, Zohar Ben Ner, founder of SupPlant, Avner Ben Ner (grandfather farmer) (Supplied)