When we talk about improving productivity and sustainability of agriculture, we need to look at the elements that contribute to sustainable plant growth. There are 17 essential elements needed for plants to grow and reproduce. The great news is that three of them are free! Carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, and plants get these from carbon dioxide and water. Those three elements account for over ninety five percent of the plants dry weight.
It is also very important to understand that you can have the best nutrient solution in the world; the most expensive organic bio stimulants, perfectly tuned right to the specific needs of the strain of plants that you're growing but, if you don't have the right environment, plants will not reach their genetic potential. This is where sensing can influence growers to optimise their plant production. UnifAI Technology and its partners have created affordable and accessible sensing and Artificial Intelligence solutions designed to help reduce cost, improve production and increase the profitability of growing.
Looking into plant growth in more detail, along with the carbon dioxide plants need oxygen at the roots. They absorb CO2 from the air, which they do in the presence of chlorophyll and full-spectrum light at the red and blue end of the spectrum. They convert to sugars and use some of those sugars for energy to grow and reproduce. They also store sugars in the flowers and the fruit, and some sugars also leak from the roots to feed mycorrhizal fungi. Generally, the plants are creating energy during daylight hours, storing it in the form of sugars, and then are burning that energy during the night. It is in the middle of the night when cell division is the strongest, so it's very important for the plants to have access to sugars, but oxygen is also necessary for respiration, and the most important place for the plant to access oxygen is in the roots, so the level of dissolved oxygen in the root zone is critically important. So, measuring humidity levels is fundamental, to ensure crops are not over watered, as this removes pore spaces in the soil as they fill up with water, which results in the suffocation of the roots. Overwatering also sets up an anaerobic environment, the “bad guys”, the root rats are anaerobic fungi and they grow in stagnant water without oxygen.
Brix is the level of sugars and nutrients in plants, and our initial goal is to create the conditions to maximize the growth of high Brix plants. Brix is also a recognised indicator for the quality of fruits and vegetables. For this it is important to have a clear measurement of the sugar content in the soil. If there is plenty of stored carbohydrates then some of those carbohydrates can be used for energy during flowering later, so to maximise yields you need to start from the very beginning by giving the plant very good nutrition to get more lateral root growth, more root mass creates lots of storage for sugars.
We can demonstrate that the AgriBox solution can extract multiple parameters from a combination of sensors, and our AI engine can make sense of those parameters, to help more effective growing.
The sensors and communication box are produced by our partner, Humans that Make. These are placed in the soil in close contact with the plant and its surrounding ecosystems and they pass the raw data to our Artificial Intelligence, which operates in real-time using trained neural networks, and with this we can provide insights on soil texture, water holding capacity, moisture, salinization, temperature, pH, conductivity, NO3-, K+ , Ca2+ and Na+.
Our platform provides on-going monitoring of crop condition because we know what is important to track regarding crop growth and the development dynamics over time. Our tool set provides timely information that can help identify problem areas affected by various vegetative factors including water status, nutrient distribution and potential disease and weed encroachment which may manifest over longer periods of time.
By doing this type of analysis the fertilizer application and pesticide recommendation can be adjusted in terms of timing, application rate and amount applied to accommodate the different growth requirement of crops at distinct points of time throughout the growing period for enhanced agricultural productivity and food supply. In addition, the long-term monitoring records which are essential for farmers to observe crop yield pattern and evaluate its sustainability against changing climatic condition are available, and provide a digital signature for quality based on the growing conditions.
Our real-time data and visualisation engine, DAVE, includes customized maps, gauges and graphics to provide a user-friendly set of graphics, allowing faster crops conditions assessment, and configurable alerts when conditions move outside the optimum range values.
In conclusion, UnifAI Technology’s AI and the AgriBox provide an easy to use and accurate evaluation and alert system that is designed to help growers improve production, with an alert system to indicate when your crop needs attention.
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