Seed World

Bayer Collaboration with Fermata Increases Sustainability

Bayer Crop Science has just completed a collaboration with Fermata in the Arava Desert according to a release. This project’s goal was to validate a model for reduced pesticide use by applying artificial intelligence.

The project tested if Fermata’s automated pest and disease detection platform, Croptimus, was feasible by verifying its capabilities. Croptimus monitored melons growing in mesh covered tunnels in a harsh environment to prove that early detection of pests and disease can improve sustainability.

Croptimus works by utilizing AI to analyze images taken daily by cameras in the facility. This system detects the smallest indication of pests and pathogens so they would not be left untreated. When left untreated, both can lead to crop loss and reduced crop quality. Croptimus is designed to improve savings by decreasing crop loss, crop inputs and scouting time.

“The initial experiment was extremely successful, and the system copes well with the many challenges in the field,” said to Imri Gabay, Crop Protection Customer Advisory Manager at Bayer, Israel. “We are already working on continuing cooperation between our companies.” Commenting further, he elaborated, “Early detection enables the application of less toxic substances, quickly dealing with the pest or disease before a major outbreak, allowing for precise spraying of a small area — and as a result, saving pesticides while obtaining cleaner produce.”

Gabay added that the endeavor was a success.

“Often Fermata found things I did not see at the time,” said Alon Kapon, the grower heading the study. “The later I discover a problem, the more treatment is needed. If I find problem later, I need to do two to three treatments before it helps, but if I find it early enough with Fermata, even one treatment can be enough, and I can use targeted mitigation — without spraying the entire facility.”

Croptimus can help to improve growers’ bottom line while also reducing pesticide use which in turn improves sustainability.