Even though it is mainly responsible for the world economy, the agricultural sector still has archaic processes that prevent an even greater jump in production. Brazil, the third largest producer in the world, stands out for its enormous production capacity, being the only one to provide two harvests a year, and with potential for expanding crops above the average of other countries.
The trend of Agriculture 4.0, a concept that takes digital technologies capable of farming through data, among other resources, to automate processes, increase productivity and produce with quality and assertiveness, has gained a lot of strength in the sector and encouraged companies to develop solutions that revolutionize still-rooted methods.
Faced with such a promising framework, scholars, researchers and professionals have evolved a lot and quickly in technologies that improve these methods, as is the case with VetorGEO, a start-up that is dedicated to creating solutions for the needs of the agricultural sector.
Founded in 2015 by Neto Salvador, a scholar with over 20 years of experience in the development of new technologies in Israel, VetorGEO brings to the country a solution for sensors for agricultural diagnostics capable of scanning 1,500 hectares per day, using spectral bands of the length of infrared waves to detect problems in crops. The sensors embedded in drones can present a quick diagnosis of the health of plants in an extensive area and generate a great reduction in costs and an increase in production.
HLB, for example, a disease that is worrying the citrus industry, not only in Brazil but worldwide, still has no cure and has devastated orchards, causing an increase in production costs. For the management of the disease, it is recommended that inspections of the orchard be carried out to detect and eliminate plants with symptoms. For this purpose, trained teams of inspectors are used, as the symptoms are easily confused with those of other diseases, who travel the orchard on foot or on platforms and examine them one by one. However, in addition to being considered a high-cost activity, inspection is slow and inefficient.
“The sensors make it possible to determine the health of cultivated plants based on the optical leaf properties of plant tissues. The estimation of these characteristics by leaf reflectance depends on the chemical composition of the tissues, which, in turn, is altered when the plant is affected by diseases or environmental stresses,” explained Neto. In addition to monitoring plant health, they can also be used for counting, identifying invasive plants, quantifying the canopy size, among others.
Although the software was created and developed in Israel, it was here in the country that it was improved. VetorGEO developed its own algorithms for the perfect integration of the collected data, crossing with a database and automatically cataloging the diseases according to the culture analyzed. All information collected is delivered to software platforms categorized with free platforms.
Several Brazilian and European scholars and universities took an interest in the VetorGEO project and are already developing improvement studies, an example of which is the University of Piza in Italy, which is leading an extensive research. In Brazil, Unesp and USP de Piracicaba are investing in research, while phytopatholigist, Dr. Kelly Pazolini, and Neto are dedicated to further improving the algorithms.
Among the benefits of the platform include the detection of plant diseases, pest attacks, water stresses, nutritional deficiency, existence of invasive plants, in addition to plant or fruit counts, canopy area and plant height and identification of planting failures.
Finally, it is essential to highlight the advances that multispectral sensors can represent in the agro market in the country and in the world, providing extremely efficient resources for harvesting and for offering precise details of the soil for the execution of precision projects for any segment in the engineering area, agriculture and plantation health, quantifying and qualifying failures, detecting stress diseases, eliminating costs and optimizing time, among other relevant benefits. The use of drones with sensors will revolutionize agricultural projects.
The original Portuguese version of this article is from GRUPO CULTIVAR.