The Silicon Review
Agriculture has evolved with science and technology. Farmers can now, with the help of advancements in agriculture, deliver the most nutritious food to the world’s ever-growing population.The concept of a farm management solution, based on information technology, is an effective way to manage natural resources while realizing modern sustainable agricultural development. A good farm management solution can support in farm management, crop marketing and agronomy. Founded in 2015, CropX’s vision was to revolutionize and automate farm management using advanced Ag Analytics, similarly to the way satellite imagery revolutionized pest-control management, almost a decade ago.It immediately realized that in order to manage irrigation and fertilization in a precise, predictive & effective manner, we would have to close the loop by integrating data from both below & above ground, essentially covering the entire soil-plant-atmosphere continuum.
Otherwise, if farmers were to rely on above-ground data only, they would be ‘looking in the rearview mirror’, not having the ability to be predictive. Knowing that a plant hasn't received enough water before the plant does - that's what CropX is all about.
How it is done
CropX commercialized the first generation of its product in 2017, offering a revolutionary farm management tool: a platform comprised of a unique & proprietary soil sensor, integrated into a big data platform along with all of the additional relevant data layers. All of this was done in order for its system to automatically generate an adaptive, variable-rate irrigation prescription that takes into account the changing conditions of the soil & weather, and constantly adapting to the specific crop needs and its growth stage.
Very little companies in the AgTech space have all of the relevant expertise in house;
CropX has a team of 35 professionals with the necessary multi-disciplinary skill set. The team includes expertise in agri-science, agri-business, big data, software and sensor technologies. These are the key disciplines that are required for product development and commercial launch and scale-up.CropX is led by a serial CEO, Tomer Tzach, who also ran a venture fund in the past.CropX has a high-profile Board with representatives from its investors, a Nobel prize laureate (Aaron Ciechanover) and software and data experts and veterans.
Technology behind the soil intelligence
Soil Sensors:Each sensor collects moisture, temperature and electrical conductivity (EC) at multiple depths. Intervals of data measurement and transmission to the CropX cloud can be remotely configured and adjusted to each crop’s unique needs. All of the data is geo-tagged based on GPS coordinates creating geospatial time series for all measured data.
Precise Weather: CropX is using various ag-specific weather data services to obtain precise weather information relevant to the users and CropX’s algorithms.For each location CropX chooses the best relevant data source, according to various parameters.Weather information includes air temperature, humidity, wind speed, evapotranspiration (ET), precipitation, min and max temperatures and more.One-week forecasts are presented and all data can be exported.
Aerial Imagery: For each field, we pull high-resolution aerial images from several sources, using many ag-related indices including Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), Normalized Difference Water Index (NDWI), Moisture Stress Index (MSI), True Color (RGB) and other relevant indices.Images are collected from several satellites, which allow CropX to retrieve a new image for every field every two to three days in average.
Soil Mapping: Soil type and texture are essential to the correct calculation of precise moisture levels, irrigation regime, hydraulic properties and organic matter.The company uses publicly-available soil maps and allow for upload of customers’ existing EM and GIS Spatial maps, and users can input data on soil specification, so that the platform can analyze these parameters.
Crop Models: CropX uses many crop models in order to learn and understand the behavior of its supported crops from all the relevant aspects – water uptake, growth stages, nutrient uptake, water and salinity stresses and more.The infrastructure developed allows CropX to manage these models on a regional basis, understating that Corn growth in Arizona’s arid climate may differ significantly than Corn growing in Australia’s tepid climate.
Its machine learning algorithms constantly adapt these models to the actual growth of the supported crops, thus refining these models continuously.Currently supported crops include Sweet Potato, Wheat, Sugar Cane, Cotton, Maize, Soy, Sunflower, Peas, Quinoa, Green Beans, Carrot, Sugar Beet, Tef, Sorghum, Tomato, Rice, Corn, Barley, Potato, Winter Wheat, Onion, Canola, Alfalfa and Grass Lands, with additional 20 crop types and varieties currently in the pipeline.
Meet the Expert
Tomer Tzach, CEO: Tomer joined CropX on January 2019 as the CEO. Tomer is a seasoned manager with strong technological and financial background, including managing three technological companies that generated multi-million-dollar revenues, two of which were acquired by strategic investors under his leadership. In addition, Tomer was an acting partner at Eurofund, Israel’s most successful venture 2000 VC fund. Tomer spent 7 years in the Israeli Air Force serving as a pilot. Tomer holds an MBA from the University of Haifa (summa cum laude) and BA in computer science from the Technion.