Newsletter 25 June 2024

📰 Weekly News I Find Worth Summarizing For You


🛡️🚁 Wiping Agri Drones From The Sky? / CCP Drones Act: The Countering CCP Drones Act, part of the 2025 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA FY25), could significantly reshape the American drone industry. Sponsored by Republicans Elise Stefanik and Mike Gallagher, the legislation aims to restrict drones from Chinese companies like DJI, which currently dominate the U.S. market with a 58% share. The bill, passed by the House and pending Senate review, cites national security risks, alleging potential espionage by Chinese firms. DJI has refuted these claims, emphasizing its stringent data protection protocols and civilian-focused operations. The act reflects growing concerns over Chinese influence in critical tech sectors and follows similar measures like the American Security Drone Act. 🔗 H.R.2864 – Countering CCP Drones Act 118th Congress (2023-2024)


🌿🤖 Freisa: Smart Plant-Tending Robot – Developed by Italy’s B-AROL-O team, Freisa is an innovative autonomous robot designed for garden care. Equipped with advanced AI and a sophisticated camera module, Freisa navigates gardens, assesses plant hydration needs, and uses its built-in sprinkler system for precise watering. Originally intended for vineyards, it has been adapted for residential gardens to address practical challenges. This four-legged robotic dog enhances the gardening experience, ensuring efficient water usage and promoting healthy plant growth through smart technology. 🔗 Read more on agtecher


Freisa: Smart Plant-Tending Robot by Italy’s B-AROL-O

🌱💊 Bayer’s Blockbuster Plan – Bayer has announced a bold initiative to launch ten blockbuster products over the next decade, each contributing over 500 million euros in peak sales. This initiative, revealed at Bayer’s 2024 Crop Science innovation update, aims to revolutionize agriculture with advanced technologies. Bayer’s strategy focuses on three pillars: annual portfolio refreshes with new germplasm and crop protection formulations, the introduction of novel products like seed and trait technologies, and strategic collaborations on gene editing and biological solutions. Key projects include the Preceon Smart Corn System, new insect control traits for corn, and advanced soybean systems. This effort is set to enhance productivity, combat climate change, and promote sustainable farming practices globally. 🔗 Bayer’s post


🦋🔍 Butterfly Decline Unveiled – A recent study investigating the decline in butterfly populations, particularly in the Midwest, has identified agricultural insecticides as a key culprit. The research, conducted over 21 years, highlighted that while habitat loss and climate change play significant roles, the widespread use of neonicotinoid insecticides has had a substantial impact on butterfly numbers. The study, based on extensive monitoring across Ohio, found that insecticides were a primary driver of the decline, alongside other stressors like unfavorable climate conditions and habitat destruction​ (PLOSIUCNMDPI)​. This comprehensive analysis underscores the urgency of addressing pesticide use, alongside habitat restoration and climate action, to protect these vital pollinators 🔗 MSUToday | Michigan State University, National Wildlife Federation


🚜🤖 DLG Feldtage Showcases Agricultural Innovation – The recent DLG Feldtage, held from June 11 to 13 near Erwitte, Germany, marked a significant milestone by spotlighting field robots for the first time. The event attracted 17,000 visitors from 45 countries to Gut Brockhof farm, where 370 exhibitors from 18 countries showcased their advancements. The ‘FarmRobotix’ program, integrating the Field Robot Event, highlighted practical robotic and precision farming solutions for both organic and conventional farming. Highlights included:

  • Aigro’s Up Robot: This small electric robot mows grass between rows of fruit trees and has already seen market success.
  • Tipard 1800: From Digital Workbench, this modular tool carrier debuted with adjustable track width and automatic level control, used with Kratzer’s hoeing bar.
  • Farming GT Hoeing Robot: Evolved from the Amazone BoniRob, this robot is active in Germany and Europe.
  • AgXeed’s AgBot: Demonstrated with wide tracks and a versatile spot sprayer.
  • VTE Field Robot: A collaborative project from Krone and Lemken, this autonomous tractor features practical road transport capabilities.
  • InRowING from Farm-ING: An AI-supported smart hoe that can identify and hoe around plants, sold in a limited series in Central Europe.
  • Escarda Technologies: Showcased diode laser weed control technology, more efficient than traditional CO2 lasers.
  • SAM Dimension: Demonstrated a drone-based spot spraying solution, offering cost-effective weed control.


🤖 Discover all agricultural robots on agtecher

We have added many new interesting agtech companies, products and startups to agtecher, go check them out  🔗 Latest on agtecher

AI in Agriculture

🌿🧠 AI Enhances Plant Disease Detection – Researchers have developed a method for identifying plant leaf diseases, combining improved SinGAN and enhanced ResNet34 architectures. The new system, detailed in Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence, accelerates training and improves accuracy by utilizing ReSinGN with an autoencoder and CBAM modules. This method outperformed traditional models, achieving a 98.57% accuracy rate in detecting tomato leaf diseases. These advancements promise significant benefits for precision agriculture, enhancing crop yield and quality through timely and precise disease management​.  🔗 Paper published in Frontiers in AI


From publication “Plant leaf disease recognition based on improved SinGAN and

improved ResNet34” Jiaojiao Chen, Haiyang Hu and Jianping Yang

🌽🤖 Syngenta & InstaDeep Collaborate for Crop Trait Breakthroughs – Syngenta Seeds has teamed up with AI company InstaDeep to enhance the development of innovative crop traits using advanced AI technology. This collaboration leverages InstaDeep’s AgroNT, a large language model trained on trillions of nucleotides, to interpret the genetic code and improve trait control and crop performance. Initially focusing on corn and soybeans, this partnership aims to revolutionize agricultural science, making it more sustainable, resilient, and productive​ 🔗 Read more


🔍🦟 AI Agriculture Pest Detection Tool Wins Africa Prize – Esther Kimani’s solar-powered AI tool, which uses machine learning-enabled cameras to swiftly detect and identify agricultural pests and diseases, has won the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation. This innovative device reduces crop losses for smallholder farmers by up to 30% and increases yields by as much as 40%. Esther, the third woman and second Kenyan to win, received £50,000. The tool notifies farmers via SMS within five seconds of detection, providing real-time intervention suggestions, and is an affordable alternative to traditional methods, leasing for just $3 per month. For more information 🔗 Source


📡🌳 AI and Remote Sensing Enhance Mango Orchard Detection – A study published in PLoS ONE demonstrates the use of Landsat-8 satellite imagery combined with machine learning to detect mango orchards in Pakistan. Researchers collected 2,150 mango tree samples over six months in Punjab, analyzing them with seven multispectral bands. The novel approach using an optimized Classification and Regression Tree (CART) model achieved a 99% accuracy rate. This high-resolution method significantly improves crop management and yield estimation, showcasing the potential of advanced remote sensing and AI in precision agriculture. 🔗 Read the study


🌍🌱 Amini’s AI for African Agriculture – Amini, a Nairobi-based startup, is leveraging AI and data science to transform agriculture in Africa. Founded by Kate Kallot in 2022, Amini focuses on collecting environmental data through satellite imagery, drones, and IoT sensors. This data is then processed locally using AI to provide actionable insights to farmers, crop insurers, and governments. Amini’s technology helps small-scale farmers manage crops more sustainably and efficiently by offering real-time alerts and recommendations on issues like impending floods and pest infestations. By utilizing local AI workstations, Amini reduces cloud computing costs and employs local engineers, enhancing the precision and relevance of their data models. This innovative approach aims to boost agricultural productivity and sustainability across the continent​ 🔗 Fast Company

🔬🧬 Science Corner


Autonomous Weeding Robot / Research project

🤖🌱  Autonomous Weeding Robot: Researchers at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have developed an innovative mobile robot for automatic and mechanical weeding in open pastures. This robot, equipped with GNSS navigation, 3D computer vision, and a robot arm with a mechanical weeding tool, targets Rumex seedlings. The project, part of the FlexiGrobots initiative, aims to reduce the use of herbicides, enhancing sustainable farming practices. Field tests showed promising results, demonstrating the feasibility of using lightweight robots and consumer-grade technology for precise and efficient weed removal. The initiative represents a significant step towards greener agricultural solutions. Read the paper

🌱🔬 Nano-based Biosensors – A study published in the South African Journal of Botany highlights the transformative potential of nano-based biosensors in agriculture. These advanced sensors, developed through nanotechnology, offer rapid, cost-effective, and precise methods for detecting plant diseases and managing both biotic and abiotic stresses. Nano-biosensors enhance soil and crop health monitoring, enabling targeted interventions and improving crop yield and quality. They are pivotal in precision agriculture, offering real-time data on plant health and environmental conditions. The study underscores the need for continued research and development to fully harness the potential of these sensors for sustainable agricultural practices. Read the study

🍇🔍 TL-YOLOv8: Advanced Blueberry Detection – A study published in IEEE Access introduces TL-YOLOv8, a novel algorithm improving blueberry fruit detection by integrating transfer learning with the YOLOv8 model. This enhancement involves the MPCA mechanism for better feature extraction, the OREPA module for faster training, and the MultiSEAM module to handle occlusions. Tested on blueberry datasets, TL-YOLOv8 achieved 84.6% precision, 91.3% recall, and 94.1% mAP, outperforming the original YOLOv8. These advancements offer significant potential for automated blueberry harvesting, enhancing efficiency and accuracy in agricultural practices. Read the study

📺 Video | Japan’s population crisis: Foreigners helping keep agriculture alive (5:23 min)

Pretty interesting report by NHK, especially in the context of agtech development of robotics and AI. The declining population in Japan is having a big impact on sectors like the agriculture industry. It’s relying increasingly on foreign farmers keen to set down roots in Japan.

Growing Fodder in an Indoor Hydroponic Farm

💰 Agtech Funding & Startups


🇨🇭 💊 MicrocapsSecured €9.6M in a Series A round to advance its microencapsulation technology. The funds will enhance production capacity and support R&D efforts for applications beyond cosmetics and fragrances.


🇬🇧 🦠 Beta Bugs Raised £1.7M to boost sustainable animal feed production, focusing on the development of high-quality insect-based feed.


🇦🇺 🤖 Farmbot – Secured $4.2M in funding to expand its operations in the US, enhancing its remote monitoring solutions for water management in agriculture.


🇮🇩 🐟 eFishery – Obtained a $30M loan from HSBC Indonesia to scale its aquaculture technology, aiming to improve fish farming efficiency and sustainability.


🇨🇭 🌿 Downforce Technologies – Raised £4.2M to scale its soil organic carbon measurement technology, aiding in the fight against climate change by promoting sustainable land use practices.


🇸🇪 🌲 Nordluft – Received new capital to advance its precision spreading technology in forestry, improving efficiency and sustainability in the sector.


🇨🇦 🌾 Trio – Secured $35M to develop and expand its ag-tech solutions, focusing on improving agricultural productivity and sustainability.


🇬🇧 🧊 Aeropowder – Secured £150K to enhance its sustainable thermal packaging solutions, reducing the environmental impact of packaging materials.


🇺🇸 🐄 HerdDogg – Successfully closed a venture equity fundraise to drive growth and innovation in livestock management technology.

Latest additions to agtecher:


We have added a ton of new drones  🚁,  robots  🦾,  tractors 🚜,  technology 🌐, hardware and software 👨‍💻! Go check out the overview of latest 🔗 agtecher additions.

New drone project 🔗 VTol Agrobee 200

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