Terraview: safeguarding agricultural productivity with robotic AI-DSS
In the final Eurostars funding round of 2021, Terraview GmbH secured a ~€783K award from Eurostars towards €1.4 million project costs. They aim to develop TERRAGREEN, a hybrid product that unites in-field robots with an Artificial Intelligence-based Decision Support System (AI-DSS) and economic and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) optimization to guide and automate tasks for farmers. Catalyze is proud to have supported Terraview in the development of the successful proposal. To learn more, we spoke with Andy Edmonds, Principal Investigator and Chief Solutions Architect at Terraview.
Incorporated in May 2019, Terraview is on a mission to increase the size of the wine industry, while becoming an internationally leading enterprise software company. With extensive knowledge in software development and building of predictive models using AI and machine learning tools, they aim to enable predictive measurements of different farm tasks.
Andy begins, “We are driven by how there’s just not enough people out there to provide laborers due to labour shortage across Europe. So, we are trying to solve that.”
TERRAGREEN: guiding farmers to make informative decisions
Farmers face pressure to maintain profitability in an uncertain labour market triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and driven by new socioeconomic behaviours. TERRAGREEN aims to overcome some of the current negative societal consequences occurring in agriculture due to the shortage of labour, by providing safe and efficient automatisation tools, and by diminishing the negative environmental impact of agriculture.
TERRAGREEN includes a subscription model for the AI-DSS software, and leasing for the in-field TERRAGREEN robot. Initially, TERRAGREEN will be launched for vineyards, with the potential to expand to other valuable crops e.g., fruits. Making up the consortium along with Terraview (CH) are Agreenculture (FR), and Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) (LX).
“The in-field robot, CEOL, come from Agreenculture, a company currently producing robots. In addition, LIST will provide an advanced LCA and Economic Assessment to give farmers greater insight into the impact of their actions and procedures on the environment from a social and economic perspective.”
Applying to Eurostars with Catalyze’s support
In collaboration with the Catalyze team, Terraview’s application to Eurostars was a success, resulting in an ~€783K award. While possessing extensive experience in applying to European subsidies, Andy explains how enlisting the support of Catalyze made this application possible:
“For this Eurostars application, we thought it was advantageous to bring in Catalyze, and leverage their expertise. That was a great time saver for us. The question is always, what exactly do the reviewers want, and Catalyze already know that. Having Catalyze’s experience ensured and contributed to the success of the proposal.”
Andy continues, “On the whole, it was a smooth, efficient collaboration, and there was no time wasting. The Catalyze team is super proactive. Aside from providing the core ideas and inputs, procedural work was minimised, but there was a whole lot of discussion and ideation. And that was very helpful. Overall, their professionalism and knowledge were very valuable to us.”
Placing farmers in the cockpit for the entire vineyard
With the awarded funding, Terragreen can moving forward with developing their breakthrough robotic system, based on real-time autonomous ground data acquisition from the robot directed into the AI-DSS. This software module then integrates combined inputs from the different sensors, including spectral cameras, with LCA analysis.
Variables considered will include plant health, disease control, nutrient management, environmental references (spectral imaging) for pollution, and satellite, drone and IoT sensor network inputs.
Andy explains, “As Terraview, we essentially bring the AI-DSS, which is presents the platform through a user interface where farmers log-in and access the oversights, reports and recommendations. It’s essentially a cockpit for your vineyard, where the robot becomes another worker, and the farmer can put it to work as needed.”
The outputs of TERRAGREEN will be inputted into Terraview’s All-In-One Crop Management Platform.
Terraview outlook: Productive farms, with less cost
Meeting unprecedented productivity requirements, farmers face a number of challenges in labour supply and climate change events effecting open field cultures. The TERRAGREEN project brings robotics to agriculture to ensure food security, productivity, while keeping costs down.
“Rather than executing complex tasks in the vineyard, such as pruning, the robots will take over simpler tasks that still come with significant labour need. If you can have a robot that goes around and do simple things like tillage, or turning or weeding, you’re already saving a lot of time and effort.”
With the project now underway since 1 June 2022, Andy finishes,
“I am very excited to see the robot going around the field, doing these jobs that the farmer struggles to find labour for. It will be brilliant to see this working in the real world, as opposed to on paper.”