Artificial Intelligence: Startups Join Forces To Boost Citrus Production In Florida

July 22, 2022 | Artificial Intelligence, News
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The two startups are currently inside a University of Florida business incubator.

Agriculture Intelligence and Satlantis, two University of Florida (UF) startups, have combined their core competencies of precision agriculture and aerospace technology respectively to boost citrus production in Florida. The state’s citrus industry just reported its lowest production in eight decades due to factors such as citrus greening disease, citrus canker and black spot disease. (University of Florida)

In Florida, trees are also lost to storms, freezes and acute events.

Inventory of citrus trees

Scientists and researchers have taken a number of measures to reverse the damage. These include disease resistant trees and new nutritional applications.

But how would the industry measure their progress? It all starts with an accurate inventory of citrus trees.

“We need to know how many productive trees are there, and just as important, how many are missing,” says Matthew Donovan, CEO of precision agriculture company Agriculture Intelligence. “How can you run a business at all without having an accurate inventory?”

Again, without knowing if productive trees are declining, how can farmers take defensive action?

Inventory mapped data can be gathered at speed by combining Agroview, a system owned by Agriculture Intelligence (also the brainchild of UF/IFAS researcher Yiannis Ampatzidis and which captures inventory data using drones) with observations collected by Satlantis from a satellite pointed at the Earth.

“Our alliance will enable us to develop one of the most on-demand applications for Earth observation —precision agriculture —and we will do it in collaboration with a company that owns an impressive technology,” said Aitor Moríñigo, executive vice president of Satlantis.

A satellite flying over the citrus cultivation area would map the status of healthy trees status many times faster than drones, and also do it more frequently – particularly after a storm or freeze event.

“The combination of our very high-resolution satellite systems with drone pictures and Agroview software is the perfect fusion of data collection at different altitudes,” said Moríñigo. “Add the software that is capable of processing all that data, and we transform it into actionable information for farmers and growers.”

Artificial intelligence can analyze the data to produce tree inventory maps, nutrient analysis, and data that demonstrates the growth and health of the trees.

“By providing full-field data – not a sample – and aggregating that with our data, we can help every single grower in Florida fight the battle and, hopefully, win the productivity war for citrus,” Donovan said.

Related Story: John Deere’s Advances in AI Powered Agriculture Machinery

Image credit: Flickr

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