In 2050, the planet will have a third more inhabitants than it has right now, which will require a 70% increase in food production compared to current levels, according to FAO forecasts. In addition to the increase in agricultural demand, there are other problems such as the climate crisis and the low adoption of technology by the sector.
Coming from a family of farmers and aware of the problems that threaten both humanity and its food source, the young Indian living in Chile, Lalit Gautam, decided to take action. He has developed a device capable of measuring soil values and sending them to the farmer to optimize crop production. His technological breakthrough, through his start-up SenseGrass, has made him one of the Innovators under 35 Latin America 2020chosen by MIT Technology Review in Spanish.
His proposal is based on the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to collect soil information in real time. The sensors report the levels of up to 20 different parameters, such as phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium levels. His proposal also includes the use of drones that take images to automate and digitalize agriculture.
Thanks to the information provided by SenseGrass, "farmers only irrigate, fertilize, and spray when it is really necessary and with the right amount," explains Gautam. In this way, the young man offers not only smart agriculture but also green agriculture, by addressing the dual challenge of increasing agricultural productivity while reducing the environmental impact of crops.
SenseGrass particularly seeks to help small farmers who don't have any technical knowledge, informing them in a simple way about the needs of their crops. But SenseGrass's different plans are also aimed at large landowners and corporations, as well as landscapers, helping them to maintain beautiful gardens in cities through its technology. Seed companies and people who have ornamental gardens can also benefit. Gautam is doing research so that he can offer his products to farmers to increase livestock productivity.
After testing SenseGrass products and services with customers, Gautam has moved into commercial production for mass deployment of the technology. It is currently sold in Chile and parts of Latin America and the United States. SenseGrass has already had an impact on 9,500 users. Gautam's goal is to expand into Central and South America. The Innovator explains, "The vision of SenseGrass is to become the most innovative agricultural technology company to provide advanced technology to our farmers so that their crops grow faster and healthier. We would like to be the face of all farmers through our sustainable farming solution."
José Samano Castillo, scientific research coordinator at the Autonomous University of Mexico and member of the Innovators under 35 Latin America 2020 jury, considers SenseGrass to be "a very interesting idea for crop improvement and optimization of nutrient use." In his opinion, Gautam's initiative is an "excellent proposal."