The Netanya, Israel based hi-tech company CropX will carry out a project in Ireland to increase herb yields and reduce soil pollution resulting from cattle growth, Calcalist reported on Wednesday. The company has already raised initial financing of half a million dollars from Ireland Ag-tech Fund, a private fund backed by the Irish government specializing in investments in the field of precision agriculture.
CropX represents the first investment of the Ireland Ag-tech Fund outside of Ireland.
Founded in 2013, CropX develops cloud-based software solutions integrated with wireless sensors, which boost crop yields and saves water and energy. The company offers an integrated hardware and software system for measuring soil moisture, temperature and electrical conductivity, and sending this data to the cloud where it can be accessed from any mobile or fixed device.
CropX says its soil sensors are simple to install, inexpensive, an agronomic game-changer. CropX chief executive officer Tomer Tzach says the sensors are only one part of the system, targeting crop and pasture agronomy, irrigation and nutrition.
“Our solution is a combination of both hardware and software,” Tzach says. “The idea is to create so many data points as to reach a point where our algorithm can learn and create a network effect in the soil, which we call crowd farming.”
“The vision of the company is to become the Google of the soil,” Tzach said, suggesting that in the future the algorithm would allow a farmer to choose the best irrigation or nutrition strategy based on what had worked well for other farmers.
“Our system will have already learned from a thousand different farmers that have similar characteristics,” he said.
Ireland is one of the world’s most successful countries in raising cattle, seeing as 95% of its area is covered with green vegetation. As a result, the Irish raise 2 million cows, in a country with 4 million people. Unfortunately, the process of raising cattle has polluted the land and water reservoirs, as the cow feces seeps into soil and water resources.
The project is designed to help Ireland cope with water pollution, which has reached a critical level of about 30% while growing the Irish dairy industry.
CropX’s systems will monitor and map out the water flows in Ireland, and provide models of flow and seepage in the land allocated for the initial experiment. Based on the models, the company will produce recommendations on specific locations where cows should graze, where to place them, traffic routes, and ways to disperse their feces.
The CropX recommendations will allow the dispersion of manure in optimal locations to improve grassland growth and reduce pollution.