Tackling Food Security Challenges With AgTech

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Farmers today have no empirical data of the situation of their fields and depend mostly on previous experience to make decisions, putting agriculture as one of the most outdated, yet essential, markets today.

With the increase in population, food demand and scarcity of resources, there is a a lot of pressure on farmers to produce more. By using sensors, analytics and data science, growers are starting to have more detailed information from their fields, which can help them make better informed decisions, as well as reduce the amount of resources and increase the quality and quantity of crops.

At the RE•WORK Future of Food Summit on 21 June, Nahuel Lavino, Co-Founder of Pycno, will explore how sensors and big data are changing agriculture. I asked him a few questions ahead of the event to learn more.

What was the motivation behind founding Pycno?
Agriculture is a $6.4 Trillion global industry that employs 1.3 Billion people worldwide. With the increase in population, resources scarcity and changes in climate it is important that we understand how to use better what we have as agriculture is absolutely essential to the lives of all 7 billion of us living on this planet. My biggest motivation has always been to make a difference in this world, no matter how small and at Pycno we do this by tackling one of the biggest challenges of this century: food security while combining two of my biggest passions: sustainability and technology.

What do you feel has been essential to the success of Pycno so far?
Support of governmental funds have been key to keep us alive and be able to concentrate full time on solving this big problem that we are all tackling the best way possible. Also, being able to gather the right mentorship during this time helped us a lot to logically tackle every day challenges that every startup has to go through during their operations. Finally, being able to have such a long trusting relationship between co-founders that compliment each other definitely helps do things much better and easier and is key for every startup success.

How can the technology and ethos behind Pycno be applied in other areas?
Pycno focuses on unassisted Plug & Play remote sensing and visualisation technologies. This includes radio communications, efficient and low power electronics together with energy harvesting and very easy to use and user friendly devices. This kind of technology is ideal for everyone that needs to measure parameters from remote areas of the world and be able to get to that information in real time anywhere you are in the globe in a complete autonomous and unassisted way.

What do you see in the future for Pycno?
Pycno's focus is to assist in solving the big challenges of mankind by providing people with quality high empirical data from any source so that it can get analysed. This process is then utilised to betterunderstand those problems and hence take the most logical decision to solve those challenges in the most informed way.

What new developments in AgTech can we expect to see in the next 5 years?
In the next 5 years IoT devices will swarm in agriculture. Everything from logistics, to irrigation and farming will have the ability to be better monitored, analysed and understood. In today's society the only way to stay competitive is to be able to produce more with less and such devices will provide their users with the ability to know exactly every parameter that they want to analyse and keep track of to be able to better understand and hence take a better informed decision.

What do you feel are the most urgent challenges within the food industry?
The most urgent challenge within the food industry today is to be able to demonstrate the consumer what exactly they are eating, where does it come from and how was it grown. Right now we have no idea if what we are eating has been sprayed with toxic pesticides or if unfair labour was involved in the production of such product. All in all, there is a huge misconception and misinformation of the consequences that what we are consuming is going to cause in coming years.

How can those be solved with technology?
The best way to solve this with technology is to be able to demonstrate with empirical data the process at which every product was produced. Sensors that are constantly monitoring the conditions at which crops are grown can easily tell you what sort of pestiside was sprayed in a farm and when. And this is just the tip of theiceberg on what we could do with such a technology. There needs to be a better communication and interest between producers and final consumer. At the moment we are being censored by all the middlemen in the industry that make money out of not providing all of this information.

Nahuel Lavino will be speaking at the RE•WORK Future of Food Summit in London on 21 June 2016. Other speakers include Florian Pinel, Lead Engineer at IBM Chef Watson; Abi Glencross, PhD in Cellular Agriculture, King's College London; Mark Horler, UK Manager, Association of Vertical Farming; Ian Hales, Research Associate, Bristol Robotics Lab, and more.

Tickets are limited for this event, for more information visit the event page here. Our previous FoodTech event sold out, book early to avoid disappointment!

Big Data IoT Agtech Future of Food Sensors Precision Agriculture Food Production Future of Food Summit


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