10 min read

Proofminder - leaf-level farming platform

Feb 29, 2024 10:24:41 AM

Meet Proofminder, a Budapest-based startup founded in 2023 by Norbert Havas and Ambrus Vancso and Simon Levente currently part of RootCamp Batch #5. Proofminder's technology integrates advanced AI with drone-acquired visual data, providing precise insights at the leaf level across extensive agricultural areas. It enables meticulous plant monitoring, accurately identifies stress factors, diseases, and weeds, while also supporting various agricultural needs such as stand counting, weather damage analysis, and nitrogen assessment. Delve in this interview into their innovative approach to tackling agricultural challenges through AI-powered precision solutions.

How does your AI-powered platform actively address the challenges in agriculture that you aim to overcome?

According to the EU’s Farm to Fork strategy, the amount of chemical pesticides and more hazardous pesticides should be reduced by 50% by 2030, while at least 25% of agricultural land in the EU should be under organic farming. Today’s intensive agriculture requires proactive and constant usage of chemicals to protect the yield and quality from different pests. The FAO estimates that annually between 20-40% of global crop production is lost to pests.

For this reason, various kinds of pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, etc. are constantly used during the growing season on fields and in horticulture. Pesticide usage was between 350,000-400,000 tons per year between 2011 and 2019. The amount did not decrease substantially despite the communicated directives of the European Union. One reason for this could be that in the case of traditional, non-differentiated spraying, chemicals are not sprayed where their effect is required on the plants, mainly due to technological constraints and because the infected area is unknown. This can result in a huge waste of chemicals, further increasing their negative impact on the environment.

How does Proofminder differentiate itself from existing precision agriculture solutions? 

Mainstream precision agriculture concentrates on fields and zoning, mainly based on satellite imagery or digital scouting, and cannot address many agricultural challenges. Proofminder brings precision agriculture to the next level by enabling growers to shift their focus from plots to individual plants. The platform extracts insights from visual data, mostly drone images, using AI to provide growers with valuable information and actionable reports about every square centimeter of their fields throughout the season. The number of use cases is almost unlimited, and thanks to a complete infrastructure, new use cases (or AI models) can be trained in a few days and scaled to as many hectares as needed. With an end-to-end approach, growers can innovate production processes without specialized knowledge. Our proven use cases show increased ROI (2-5x), improved food quality, and resource savings up to 80%, including reduced inputs, chemicals, labor costs, and CO2 emissions.

Moreover, our reporting flexibility integrates seamlessly with leading industry solutions. For example, hyper-precise spot spraying maps can be easily uploaded to equipment like John Deere sprayers or DJI spraying drones for efficient implementation.

Can you share specific use cases illustrating the environmental benefits of integrating AI, especially in missed tassel detection and intelligent weed mapping in agriculture?

Examples include geo-referenced plant population analysis, hyper-precise weed detection, and spot spraying maps, wildlife or weather damage analysis, yield assessment or loss, among others. Once a grower identifies the use case, we cover the entire journey – from image gathering to providing time-sensitive and hyper-precise reports in various formats.

Proofminder Use Case                           Use case of missed tassel detection for corn seed production. Photo: Proofminder

We collaborate extensively with crop producers, orchards, tree farms, and seed production companies. Our most popular high-ROI use cases involve missed tassel detection in hybrid corn to enhance seed quality and weed detection maps that can be exported to any spraying machine or drone, allowing for intelligent field spraying and saving up to 80% on chemicals and budget. 

In 2023, we processed over 1000 hectares in the system and executed projects on three continents, spanning various countries in Europe, South Africa, and India. In December 2023, we expanded our presence by hiring representatives in Brazil and Australia to explore new markets and are currently seeking pilot projects in these locations. Our customer base includes top seed companies and large farms, with some names undisclosed due to NDA agreements. However, we showcase the logos and case studies of the rest on our website.

Provide insights on the future of AI in agriculture, and how do you plan to stay at the forefront?  

We do see the awareness and adoption of technologies on farms of all sizes, which is great. A few years ago, having a drone on the farm or utilizing AI in the production process sounded like rocket science, and now growers who implemented precision AgTech solutions see great outcomes and are willing to scale. Every day, we speak with growers and drone service providers, hearing ideas for new use cases. We are open to joint innovations and dedicate slots for this each month. Recently, we launched new UI and self-service features in the platform. These new features will make it easier to start and use our platform, both for growers and drone service providers.

What do you want to achieve during the RootCamp acceleration program?

Reviewing our strategy, positioning, and company evaluation is a very good opportunity for us now. The key success indicators of our participation would be new industry connections, increased awareness, and piloting or joint innovation with a farm or seed production company. Also, we are currently raising the next round and are open to new connections with investors. 

For a closer look at Proofminder's platform, we invite you to join us during our upcoming Demo Day on April 10th at the RootCamp Headquarters. Here, you can meet the founders and explore the features and benefits in detail. Get a ticket Demo Day ticket here.

Linh Pham

Written by Linh Pham

Linh holds a master's degree in media and communications. In the past years, she has worked as an employee and freelancer in different editorial offices. Since 2020 she is part of the SpinLab team and is now responsible for public relations.

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