Are you ready for the mass demand for this technology? How do you plan to develop it?
We are working on our franchise offer to the market. It will allow anyone to receive data on the location of territories infected with hogweed, tracks for unmanned or manned vehicles, and chemical solutions from us. On request, the customer will be able to buy, rent unmanned aerial vehicles or ground-based types of robots from us or our partners, and independently conduct the area treatment. For our part, we will provide a report on the results of the work carried out and, if necessary, give further recommendations.
Sensors for machinery and cows
In what other areas of agriculture can the "digit" benefit?
In agriculture, the "digit" is needed even more than in machine-building, for example in livestock. Here's a simple example: you can attach a pedometer to a cow's leg on pasture and read how far it has traveled every day. Thus you will know the average number of animal steps per day. If it gradually increases, it means that the cow is short of feed or water. You can make adjustments to the grazing mode or the watering places design. You can do without sensors as well – a drone with a thermal camera will not only see the cow but will also be able to measure its temperature. It is even more important to assess the condition of pastures or hayfields, to plan the mode of grazing or harvesting hay – here the satellite and unmanned information is absolutely necessary.
Or, for example, we can equip agricultural machinery with our predictive analytics systems, which are widely used to collect and analyze data on the operation of locomotives, and receive a wide range of data from it. Imagine that you need to sow a field with, let's say, wheat. Knowing the plant culture and the nuances of preparing the soil, you can adjust the equipment to the ideal conditions for sowing: set the tractor speed, the diameter of the nozzles in the seeder and more.
The same goes for tillage or fertilizing. The digital control of equipment operation, soil conditions, the exact mode of fertilizer application, the optimal seeding rates – all this can increase the yield by 20% or more. The same technology makes it possible to automatically send key data (high-speed mode, fuel consumption, trajectory) from any machine directly to accounting documents for making calculations and charges.
In October, Ctrl2GO and the Analytical Center of the Russian Ministry of Agriculture signed an agreement on the development of digital solutions. What does this work imply?
We proposed to develop an open-type intelligent platform for the Ministry of Agriculture based on the State Industry Information System created by the Ministry of Industry and Trade. A whole range of services are implemented there: financial, technology transfer, information service, virtual trading floors are open, there are industry portals, etc. Similar services can be very useful for agriculture. Why, in this case, spend budgetary funds on the development of what has already been done at public expense? We will be able to transfer some of the ready-made services to this platform, and also develop some other part in addition. Since this system will be open, it will be easy to integrate any reliable service developed by someone at the request of the Ministry of Agriculture or on one's own initiative.
But what will make your product unique?
We can collect data, process it, store, provide it to various systems, verify, aggregate, analyze and so on. This opens up the widest opportunities for the department. For example, today, farmers report to the Ministry of Agriculture about the types of crops sown and the amounts harvested. In one of these reports, a Rostov-based entrepreneur indicated that he had collected 180 centners of wheat from 1 hectare. But the average yield in the region is 34 centners! Obviously, he didn't grow anything at all but bought wheat from his neighbors as soon as they harvested, and thus he tries to avoid taxes. We can verify this from space data: see what and how much is grown anywhere in the world.
In addition, our developments are capable of predicting crop yields with high accuracy. Based on Big Data, artificial intelligence gives not only the most favorable time for sowing in each specific field but also useful information on what fertilizers to apply, whether it is necessary to treat weeds and pests, when to harvest and so on.
How do you see the 'smart farming' in the future?
We aim for building a system, in which the farmer will not feel left to their own devices, working at their own risk. Their field will be equipped with sensors helping artificial intelligence calculate what exactly to sow and when it is better to sow. Unmanned tractors will till and sow fields. The images from outer space will reveal the areas where, if necessary, fertilizing or combating pests should be carried out, they will provide data on the harvest time. Unmanned harvesters will harvest.
Sale bots will deliver products to the warehouse or directly to the buyer. When they are sold, the farmer will receive the information about the profit on their phone. I believe that in 15–20 years this will become a reality. Man will become the head of these systems maintenance, the new age is preparing a more intellectual and exciting work for him.