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FOODnext @ Agritechnica – Getting ready for the future

Discussion on future agricultural machinery and equipment with leading experts, innovators and managerial staff – UseMyTec wins pitch

(DLG). Robots, autonomous machines, artificial intelligence and other innovations in agricultural technology – all these themes were discussed on 15 November 2017 during this year’s FOODnext at Agritechnica. Agriculture is currently experiencing a digital revolution similar to ‘Industry 4.0’. Today, there are hundreds of start-up companies worldwide that have specialised in agribusiness. They aim to make agriculture even more efficient, precise and resource-conserving in future. As a result of further factors such as the pressure caused by climate change, the fact that by 2050 there will be two billion people living on this planet and that only 40% of the land is available, a market that is ripe for innovations is developing. Digitisation is thus becoming an increasingly more important component in the production process. “Digitising has the task of simplifying the farmers’ lives”, stressed Tobias Menne, Global Head of Digital Farming at Bayer Crop Science. In the series of digital innovations it is important for developments not to lose sight of the farmer as user – “We need smart and user-friendly technologies” explained Andy Ziolkowski, Managing Director, Cultivian Sandbox, in his appeal to innovators. The future of digital agriculture is still very uncertain, however. Many new technical innovations in the field of digitisation are coming onto the market, but no clear winner has emerged yet – it is difficult to say who could become the Facebook or Amazon equivalent in the agricultural sector.

Pitching for victory – The winners: UseMyTec
The young Bamberg-based start-up company UseMyTec was able to convince the expert jury and win with an impressive pitch at FOODnext 2017 at Agritechnica. UseMyTec is the new digital solution for renting agricultural machinery – the platform allows anyone with an agricultural machine or implement to hire it out quickly and safely, thus turning unused capacities into cash. Conversely it allows farmers hiring machines to master peak workloads without any complication, or to ensure a replacement quickly in the event of a machine failure. And this with just a few clicks. UseMyTec attaches maximum value to security. “Each hiring operation is secured via our overall insurance. With this we guarantee that breakage and other damage are settled quickly and without any problems.” With this statement Managing Director Rodney Younce addresses a financial risk which is eliminated thanks to the new service.

The company bases its approach completely on transparency and digital channels. “We believe that every farmer should have access to machinery at any place and any time. Regardless of whether they need a replacement or additional capacity”, explains Christoph von Heydebreck, farmer and manager at UseMyTec.

Four start-ups compete for victory
UseMyTec, Acrai, SKYLAB and GREENSPIN – these four start-ups presented their innovative ideas at FOODnext.
Renting agricultural machinery, sharing implements and earning money by the way – that is the new service that the start-up UseMyTec has come up with. This project consists of a free online platform on which farmers can upload their agricultural machinery that is not being used for a time and rent it out to other farmers.
Algorithms for early identification of plant diseases and for vegetation monitoring on the basis of drone or satellite data – this is the development presented by the start-up SKYLAB. The objective of SKYLAB is to establish a platform on which raw data and photos can be uploaded worldwide and automatically evaluated/analysed.
The start-up GREENSPIN has set itself the goal of characterising agricultural land areas with extensive analyses of satellite data and geo-data in order to provide large-scale agricultural statistics such as e.g. crop-specific cultivation area and production quantities as the season progresses.
The start-up Acrai develops autonomous robots for agriculture which, in a first step, aim to replace the use of herbicides in agriculture. Acrai uses self-learning algorithms to distinguish between crop plants and weeds and combines these with tried-and–tested methods for selective weed removal.
Alongside the fascinating start-up pitches on the stage, the FOODnext event also provided for very constructive discussions on future digital ideas in agricultural machinery and equipment.
Photograph legend: The winners UseMyTec (l.to r.): Christoph von Heydebreck, Head of Business Development, UseMyTec, and Rodney Younce, Managing Director, UseMyTec


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Friedrich W. Rach

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International media and communications manager