Food production and food systems have never been without issues. Low yields, pests, diseases, poor climatic conditions, the list goes on. However, with the onset of COVID-19, the virus seems amplify many of those issues. The agricultural industry as a whole has had to adapt significantly to the new challenges. One of the key adaptations has been that farms have had to become more efficient. One New Zealand-based company is on the front lines of making that happen.
Autogrow is a global technology company and a world leader in controlled environment farming. Most of the work they do is about moving farm operators to digital management practices on their farms. They offer products for both smaller farms, like automation systems, and for newer, larger farms they offer a crop management platform FarmRoad and yield prediction for greenhouse based tomato production. Darryn Keiller, CEO of the company, talks about how the virus is impacting the industry and how their technologies can help growers post-COVID.
Most of the industry is still analogue, and Autogrow is creating new solutions to take growers into the digital realm. “It’s about how we apply software and data and artificial intelligence. In that regard, we’re having a lot of engagement from growers in Europe, the US, Mexico, Canada. All large enterprises looking for ways to advance the way that they operate their farms.”
Another thing that Darryn and his colleagues see it that the global crisis is invoking local business helping other local businesses. They are curious to see if those changes will stay, and expect that to become visible in the coming months or years. “And for us, it’s really about the growers who need help. Our focus is on them now. The last thirty years have been about the individual, now the situation requires us to work together and be more selfless.”