Japanese companies NEC Corporation and Kagome have started a strategic partnership to link NEC’s CropScope AI powered smart farming platform to Kagome’s farming know-how to improve tomato yields.
Both companies have been collaborating since 2015 already when Kagome started developing agricultural management support technologies using big data in collaboration with NEC. This is aimed at realising environmentally friendly and highly profitable agricultural management in the cultivation of tomatoes for processing on a global basis.
The recent partnership is to result in a new service using NEC’s AI-enabled smart farming platform, CropScope, to visualise tomato growth and soil conditions based on sensor data and satellite images, and to provide farming management recommendation services. The AI-part of the solution is to provide data on the best timing and amounts of irrigation and fertiliser resulting in stable yields and lower costs.
While practicing environmentally sustainable agriculture without depending on the skill of individual growers. An AI supported experiment from NEC and Kagome in Portugal in 2019 showed that the amount of fertiliser used was 20% less than the average amount used in general, yielding 127 tons of tomatoes per hectare, 1.3 times that of the average Portuguese grower, and almost the same as that of skilled growers.
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The companies say that with the new service, tomato processing companies can obtain a comprehensive understanding of the most effective growing conditions for tomato production on their own farms, as well as their contract growers. And, they can better manage crop harvest orders across all fields based on objective data, which helps to reduce yield loss and improve productivity.
Kagome has a long track record in tomato processing dating back to 1899. It produced various tomato (related) food products including tomato sauce, puree, ketchup, juice and fresh tomatoes. The company is to establish a smart agri division in April 2020, first targeting customers in Europe, then aiming to expand the business to worldwide markets. NEC, Nippon Electric Company, is an electronics company known for instance for its Packard Bell consumer pc’s and it has its smart farming management.
It’s interesting to see how Japanese multinational companies from outside agriculture are increasingly interested in precision agriculture. This includes amongst others Konica Minolta, Nissan, Softbank, Sony, Toyota and Yamaha.