NEC taps power of AI in agricultural platform for tomato farmers

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NEC has updated its agricultural ICT platform, CropScope, that it says helps resolve challenging farming issues. CropScope, which NEC has been operating with Kagome since April 2020, uses sensors and satellite photographs to visualise the growth status of tomatoes and the condition of soils. It also offers a service that provides farming advice using artificial intelligence (AI). The AI uses knowledge from cultivators to provide guidance on things like the optimum amount of water, fertiliser and the best time to apply them. This enables tomato producers, regardless of skill level, to stabilise their harvests and reduce cultivation costs, while implementing environmentally friendly farming.

With this knowledge being passed down, the platform can duplicate successful production methods and provide support for the training of new farmers. Operators and managers of processed tomato facilities can also understand the growth of tomatoes in both their own soils and that of contracted farmers, making it possible to optimise harvesting and improve productivity based on objective data.

Updates include greater AI capabilities and improvement to applications for tomato growers

Updates include greater AI capabilities and improvement to applications for tomato growers

Now NEC says it has added new functions to the platform, including strengthening its AI capabilities. For example, NEC says it conducted demonstration tests of CropScope in collaboration with Kagome subsidiary KAGOME Australia Pty Ltd. Since the cultivation requirements for Australia differed from markets where CropScope had been applied in the past, such as Portugal, the platform gained important knowledge on soils, crop breeds, and irrigation facilities. This included simulations on the water content of soils in the underlying irrigation system, recording data from trained cultivators and enhancing analytical methods. This, says NEC, has enabled the platform to deliver the same harvest capacity as trained cultivators in a variety of environments, ranging from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere.

The company has also improved the convenience of applications based on user feedback. This includes the ability to identify field abnormalities, such as changes in the soil and water content, the ability to determine farming priorities for individual fields, expressing data in a simple manner, and the ability to analyse accumulated data between fields to improve farming methods.

Future plans

Going forward, the two companies aim to accelerate the growth of this business by strengthening proposals for processed tomato manufacturers, particularly in Europe and the Americas, and for tomato production companies.

We aim to realise environmentally friendly and highly profitable farming in the cultivation of tomatoes for processing globally,” said Kengo Nakata, general manager, Smart Agri Division, Kagome.

Since 2020, we have been expanding…CropScope, which we jointly developed using NEC’s cutting-edge technologies. This tool was renewed in April 2021 to strengthen our ability to provide solutions. In addition, we will accelerate the resolution of the issues that producers face in the farming field and aim to realise sustainable farming.”

NEC will continue to develop and provide solutions that contribute to the cultivation of a wide range of crops, helping to overcome social issues, climate change and food safety concerns, while creating sustainable farming experiences,” said Teruyuki Nakajima, EVP and general manager, corporate business development division, NEC Corporation.

The company says the platform is already helping customers achieve stable yields through verification in a variety of environments. As a result, NEC expects to expand the number of new contracts for the platform.

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Christine writes about technology’s impact on business, and is a long-term contributor to specialist IT titles including Channel Pro and Microscope. She also writes for Raconteur and is regularly featured in The Times and Sunday Times.

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