Agriculture and technology – agritech – is being hailed as the tool which will increase yields throughout Ukraine, allowing staple crops to grow in abundance and improve the competitiveness of the country.
Since Soviet times, Ukraine’s farms have experienced vast decreases in investment, leading to far lower yields compared to neighbouring European countries. With agriculture accounting for over 30% of the country’s exports, in the past, Ukraine’s potential as an agricultural leader has largely been unmet.
What role can technology take in advancing agriculture throughout Ukraine?
Utilising sensors, drones and data management systems, agritech is being poised as the emergent technology which could assist Ukraine in unlocking its potential in the agricultural sector. In the country, studies led by the World Bank highlight that 50,000 hectares of farmland are lost each year, owing to soil erosion and land degradation – a loss which equates to 263.7 bn UAH (~€8.6 bn) annually.
Agrieye, led by Andrey Sevryukov, believes that it could prevent up to 50% of those losses through an approach which would harness the use of hi-tech, internet-based land management systems. Agrieye uses drones, multispectral remote sensing and wide-ranging open data sets, taken from NASA satellites.
Using this data, Agrieye can create a precision view of land, as well as providing the chemical composition of soil, including:
- Potassium levels; and
- Vegetation state.
Artificial intelligence technology is also used to analyse the land and predict crop yields, whilst providing its recommendations on how to both irrigate and fertilise crop lands to increase yield.
A precision approach to farming
Precision farming enables farmers to increase the profitability of the land which they have available, whereby they can budget for expenses, work land efficiently and, using reliable yield predictions, sell their harvest in advance.
Working with small- and medium-sized farms in Latin America, the US, Malaysia and Ukraine, Sevryukov told the Kyiv Post that Ukraine has “one of the most developed agritech sectors in the world, on a par with that of Israel.”
Owing to the decreased levels of investment for agriculture, in Ukraine, Agrieye offers its services free of charge to farmers. Despite this, the founder is confident that in the future, agriculture in Ukraine will be more profitable, and would eventually be capable of paying for services such as Agrieye. He added: “Agritech will help agriculture leapfrog 15 years forward in development, and catch up with other countries in this sphere.”