(GERMANY)

Bosch is making a big impact in the rapidly growing agriculture technology (agtech) industry.

The company has bagged €1 billion in agtech sales, as its sensor and connectivity platforms show themselves to be suited to smart farming – as well as automotive – applications.

“Bosch can do more than cars and cordless screwdrivers. We are bringing high tech to farms, opening up a market worth billions,” explained Dr Markus Heyn, member of the Robert Bosch GmbH board of management.

With a growing global population adding to the mounting pressures being placed on arable land, which is already facing huge threats from climate change, smart farms can be one of the solutions for getting more from less.

Connected farms can harness sensor technologies to provide real-time information, easily accessible via smartphone apps. This improves monitoring capabilities, without the need for physical inspection, in turn leading to better field management and higher yields. The Bosch IoT Cloud also enables machinery to communicate potential problems, allowing for early action to avert expensive and costly repairs.

Bosch is also working with Bayer on ‘smart spraying technology’ that can – in ‘lightning speed’ – tell the difference between crops and weeds – using camera sensors, meaning pesticides only target weeds.

“Smart spraying sustainably clears fields of weeds. This safeguards yields while minimizing environmental impact,” Heyn added.

And this is an important factor, as agriculture leaders need to advance innovations, such as smart spraying tech, that are climate-friendly, to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint.

In September Deere & Company recognised this by moving for precision agriculture startup, Blue River Technology, in a deal worth $305 million. The young American firm uses machine learning and artificial technologies to identify the exact amounts of spray plants and crops require – reducing fertiliser use by up to 90%.

Another interesting proposition, from the Earth Institute at Columbia University, is that an extra 825 million people could be fed by swapping around where crops are grown globally.