Every growing season, farmers stake their livelihoods around a major element they can’t control: weather. But The Yield, an agricultural technology company based in Australia, uses sensors, data and artificial intelligence (AI) to help farmers make informed decisions related to weather, soil and plant conditions.
“How do we feed the world without wrecking the planet?” says Ros Harvey, who founded The Yield in 2014. “We do that by taking the guesswork out of growing. This means growers can make better, faster decisions about how they produce the food we all eat.”
Sensors in the company’s end-to-end solution measure 12 important factors including soil moisture, leaf wetness, light, wind and rain. Using Microsoft AI, The Yield applies advanced analytics and predictive modeling to create a 7-day weather forecast for a farmer’s specific microclimate. An intuitive mobile application helps farmers use the forecast to determine how, when and where best to plant, irrigate, protect, feed and harvest their crops.
The Yield built its first product for the oyster industry, learning how to solve problems for oyster farmers and regulators.
“We often describe oysters as the entrée to our business,” says Harvey. “Sometimes I think, ‘What were we thinking?’ We put electronics in salt water and delivered a service to food safety regulators. It doesn’t get harder than that.”
The experience helped the company learn how to quickly respond to customers – lessons that now strengthen its work with land farmers.
“We’re giving them tools to be scientists and to innovate more quickly,” Harvey says. “So they can make faster, more confident decisions; use less inputs and lower costs; and get more outcomes from fewer resources. That’s how we get sustainability, and that’s got to be good for the planet.”