Preventing crop failures by using a smartphone to detect a plant’s nutrient deficiency at an early stage: The Agricultural Nutrient Assistant (ANA) from Spacenus is designed to support farmers in fertilizing plants according to their needs. K+S and Spacenus, a start-up company based in Darmstadt, have agreed to work closely together in developing this digital technology in the area of precision farming.
ANA combines smartphone and satellite images to indicate the current nutrient supply of cultivated plants. Artificial intelligence (AI) is used, which evaluates satellite images and calculates differences within a field generating a nutrient map. This provides information on the supply of plants with the nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur and magnesium. With this information, farmers and consultants can plan the appropriate amount of fertilizer according to demand and variability, and prevent damage to plant growth.
The AI developed by Spacenus identifies the supply status of a plant by analyzing smartphone photos. Tests on wheat plants, currently being carried out by K+S as part of the cooperation at the IAPN research institute in Göttingen, provide important data for the AI used to train and test the models. This project envisages cooperation for an initial period of two years.
“We expect this innovative technology to have a decisive advantage over our competitors in agricultural application consulting in the future,” says Alexa Hergenröther, CEO of Europe+ Operating Unit at K+S. “We are very much looking forward to the joint development of ANA with Spacenus”.
“In K+S, we have found a particularly strong cooperation partner. Our visions with regard to more efficient fertilization in agriculture are a perfect match. The development of our algorithms is being significantly advanced by K+S and its partner institute IAPN. Our project really benefits from the commitment of K+S as well as from the excellent cooperation between our two teams,” says Lionel Born, co-founder of Spacenus GmbH.
Since 2017, the development of ANA has been funded by the European Space Agency ESA and the German Aerospace Center DLR.
Pilot project of the ANA prototype in 2020
ANA is already being tested in agricultural applications for the 2020 fertilizer season. Up to 60 farmers and agricultural consultants can currently register as pilot participants. The findings of the pilot project will be measured using various indicators – both agronomic and for handling the tool – and will be published in a final report at the end of 2020.