Agroecology 2 min
Three start-ups in precision agriculture
Focus on 3 start-ups: Chouette, Hiphen and Smart Farmers
Published on 16 December 2019
Co-founded by Charles Nespoulous and Cyril de Chassey in June 2015, Chouette works with winemakers and currently has around a hundred clients. "Our initiative followed on from an article by an American agronomist who explained that it was possible to reduce crop inputs and treatments by 50% while achieving the same yields", explains Charles Nespoulous. Dedicated to the monitoring of vineyards by Red-Green-Blue (RGB) camera equipped drones, the start-up specialises in leaf area index analysis and mildew detection. "The drone counts the number of visible mildew spots within a plot. You just need to identify an area to generate its flight plan. The client only has to click on an app and the device follows its predetermined route." Chouette is now finalising vineyard deficiency detection modules, which will be available from 2020 onwards, and is working on inter-row detection solutions.
Hiphen was born in the fold of the EMMAH UMR Joint Research Unit in Avignon in October 2014, under the leadership of Alexis Comar, then a post-doctoral student in the Unit. "What drives our project", he explains, "is a determination to support the digitalisation of the agricultural world by contributing a technological building block : the ability to measure plants using sensors, regardless of the plant or the sensor. » Solicited by about thirty clients, Hiphen develops all sorts of technologies for crop imaging, from drones to satellites and connected sensors, accessible via mobile phone. For its founder, precision must initially rhyme with anticipation. "Precision agriculture has long focused on the 'where' question, notably in terms of nitrogen level and disease detection. The other decisive question is that of 'when', and a fortiori in a world subject to climate change." According to him, a parallel effort must be made to highlight the economic aspect of technologies. "In pre-production, for improving products proposed by seed companies, and in post production, for optimising agro-industrial logistics. That is how these technologies will finally reach farmers."
Precision agriculture is not just about technology, but also about the data it generates. How can data be highlighted, its diffusion promoted, and the interests of those who produce it and those who use it be brought together? This is the challenge which Smart Farmers has decided to rise to, at a time when the second internet revolution is playing out with the emergence of the Blockchain in the digital value exchange system. "Data in itself is worth nothing", Emmanuel Aldeguer points out. Formerly stationed at the Fédération nationale des coopératives d’utilisation de matériel agricole (National Federation of Agricultural Equipment Cooperatives) (Cuma), the co-founder of the start-up drew on the idea of providing services based on accounting records of material exchanges. "Tasks and decision-making will improve thanks to knowledge exchange, which is one of the objectives of precision agriculture. We boast about “Agricultural Big Data”, yet how would it exist without sharing data?"