PERSPECTIVE: Is Bayer’s Highly Anticipated xarvio App the Next Uber for Ag?

The xarvio booth at Agritechnica 2017.

As many of our CropLife IRON readers might know, every summer at MAGIE we award the most popular product featured at the show with the ShowStopper Award.

Had we been doing a similar poll last week in Hannover, Germany, at the 2017 Agritechnica show, gun to my head I’d have pegged Bayer’s recently acquired xarvio Digital Farming Solutions (yes, the X is supposed to be lowercase) as the early frontrunner, and I’m not all that sure I wouldn’t have cashed in on that bet.

As intriguing a digital offering as this author has ever encountered in ag tech, xarvio is comprised of two apps, Field Manager (the FMIS piece) and xarvio scouting (smartphone-based scouting), as well as the high frequency aerial imagery product from Bay Area-based Planet Labs and the slick Bosch Smart Spray application system (think Blue River’s See & Spray tech taken a step further).

Currently available in Europe as well as several other parts of the world, and with a rumored wandering eye on the North American market, I spoke with Bayer’s Head of Digital Farming Tobias Menne to find out just when this potentially disruptive ecosystem will land stateside.

“Our ambition is to have 5 million growers (on the platform) next year with an emphasis on sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia,” Menne explained. “Our products in Brazil we market on a per acre basis, and of course the scouting app is free of charge. We have currently 350,000 users, and we have a pre-product which is a weed scout in the market now. The Deputy Ag Minister of Sudan just visited me and said this is what we need for our farmers, they all have a smartphone but they are lacking credible knowledge around agronomy.”

After dancing around my question a bit, I do confirm with Menne that xarvio is planned for a U.S. release sometime in the near future, probably closer to the end of 2018 than the beginning.

“Overall we are guided by the idea that our planet currently has 500 million farmers, and essentially currently as it stands one percent of those farmers produce around 80% of all the calories, so those farmers we need to help be more efficient in their operation, and to be more environmentally safe to increase sustainability,” he says. “What you see here at the booth is exactly doing this. Essentially all around crop protection, making sure we are using the minimal amount and every drop counts.”

With 350,000 users worldwide submitting smartphone images of field conditions, diseases, and pest pressures from agronomic regions across the world, one has to reckon that xarvio is building a particularly powerful image recognition library. Menne agrees.

“It’s helping farmers with a more targeted disease and weed management. We are helping farmers to determine the exact right moment to come in with a treatment, field specifically, based on agronomic modeling, satellite data, and the crowdsourcing we have from scouting.”

“It is a zone management,” he continues. “And understanding what exactly is needed in those zones. We also have an exclusive collaboration with Bosch on the Smart Spraying system, which is a camera system identifying which weed is it, and opening really the nozzle and, what I think is very specific and really unique is, it is mixing different herbicides in the nozzle, so that is a key component.”

Wait a minute, what? It’s not only sensing and spraying in real-time, it’s custom mixing different AIs right there on the rig, based on weed type?

“Yes, like I said this not only recognition, it’s mixing four components in real-time in the nozzle. And we also are convinced that, speaking with regulatory bodies like U.S. EPA, we’ll be able to register entirely new crop protection products which are resistance breaking, and we can tell them and actually prove that we are using them across only maybe 1% of the total acreage.”

Menne also notes that the Field Manager FMIS app will not be your typical standalone agronomy software suite, but rather he sees the app as a sort of data portal that connects across equipment and sensor networks to make all of the data flow where the grower wants and need it.

“What we feel is really important is that we do not intend to position Field Manager as a standalone platform (for agronomy), but rather as a vertical ‘tapping in’ to other platforms. Working with the John Deeres and retailers, and other users and interested parties.”

One region who’s interest in xarvio that has surprised Menne is our very own North America, where he guesses some guys are using the free scouting app just to more easily identify issues in field.

“During my last trip over I checked with some friends that farm and I said ‘Why are you using our product?’ And they said ‘Look, we’ve become so accustomed to using glyphosate and Roundup over the last 30 years that we’ve lost the traditional knowledge to identify individual weeds and to determine them.’ So with that app that becomes very, very easy. And besides that, now I can send my farm worker, because he too has a smartphone, instead of the agronomist.”

And, unlike some of the more once-promising efforts around ag data in the past, xarvio is attempting to do all of this without a bank of historic yield data to lean on. An interesting approach, for certain, but one that we will have to monitor closely going forward to see if it actually succeeds.

“I’ve worked on farms in Ukraine and our yield monitors were really inefficient and inaccurate, because we were never bothering calibrating (them),” Menne reasons. “So what we are doing is, we are coming with a yield determination for the season and we are using this to calibrate satellite data to come up with much better and more accurate yield maps than the current yield meters are providing.”

For any ag service professionals that have made it all the way through this article to this point, I doubt I have to spell out the implications for you of all of this – were it to succeed – on your future business plans. The idea that a huge corporation like Bayer can largely automate and deliver agronomic recommendations remotely though a smartphone is a far greater danger to the future sustainability of any agronomic consulting operation, in this author’s opinion, than a few large growers buying generic glyphosate off an online marketplace.

So, has Bayer found the next groundbreaking, culture-defining app (ala Uber) for agriculture? And what does the coming debut of xarvio mean for many of North Americas current biggest players in agronomy-based software, like Climate Corp., Farmers Edge, and the recently formed FieldReveal venture?

That all still remains to be seen, and will essentially be decided both on whether we see more consolidation among ag tech software companies, as well as how the slated sometime-in-2018 North America debut goes, but xarvio will remain something, yet another thing, for all of us to keep our eyes on in 2018.

Topics:

Leave a Reply to Sagar Kumar (@sagar_tycc) Cancel reply

One comment on “PERSPECTIVE: Is Bayer’s Highly Anticipated xarvio App the Next Uber for Ag?

Africa/Middle East Stories
Zambia agriculture
Africa/Middle EastYoung Farmers in Zambia Turning to Digital Technologies
August 30, 2017
Across the globe farmers are turning to digital technology and one place rich in new ideas is Zambia where young Read More
Israel-Irrigation-system-featured-image
Africa/Middle EastIsraeli Precision Ag Companies Lead in Water Use Efficiency, Ag Technology
August 16, 2017
In the last week, AgriHub, formed by farmers and consultants from Brazil, visited 10 Israeli agribusiness companies, including the Ministry Read More
GVM E-Series cab
Africa/Middle EastGlobalization And Precision Agriculture
December 7, 2016
Globalization has taken on a negative connotation in some circles in the U.S. in recent months. The lightning rod for Read More
Precision Farming
Africa/Middle EastPrecision Farming: The Way To Go For Africa
July 26, 2016
It is not wise and sustainable to continue practising conventional agricultural methods, such as ploughing and loosening the soil before Read More
Trending Articles
John-Deere-Cab-GPS
Data ManagementPrecision Ag Hardware and Software: A Little Off-Season Maintenance Goes A Long Way
January 11, 2018
All service technicians have heard this line. Most often when spring makes its anticipated return to our lives. It is Read More
Anez-Consulting-Paul-Anez-and-Michael-Dunn
Service ProvidersAnez Consulting: Focus On Fertility
January 9, 2018
Central Minnesota features variability aplenty when it comes to soil characteristics and topography, from flat, black expanses rich in organic Read More
Agrishow2017
Americas5 Best Ag Tech Shows in Brazil
January 8, 2018
Brazil continues to demonstrate its potential in agriculture. Several international companies are investing in our country because we have a Read More
Farmer and computer
Service ProvidersPrecision Agriculture Writers Wanted To Join Our Team in 2018
December 10, 2017
About The Opportunity: PrecisionAg.com is looking for people to join our team in 2018 and submit original content to our Read More
Harvested-Corn-Field-Clouds
Data ManagementWeather Services Advance Precision Agriculture
December 4, 2017
Some estimates suggest over half of growers’ activities are impacted by weather conditions, from field workability to fertility management to harvest Read More
Wheat-an-oats-Daniel-X-ONeil
Data ManagementWill Open-Source Finally Unlock Ag Technology’s Potential?
November 28, 2017
To Aaron Ault’s eyes, ag technology right now is something like a walled garden — not unlike the Microsoft of Read More
Latest News
Data ManagementBlockchain: Making Data Cleaner, More Secure
January 16, 2018
Probably most professionals who deal with business data have at least heard the term “blockchain” bantered about as potentially the Read More
Soybean-field-clouds-Photo-courtesy-of-Earl-R-Shumaker
Data ManagementBetting on Rain? The Accuracy and Reliability of Precip…
January 16, 2018
For you sports junkies out there, if I could prove to you that I can correctly predict winners and losers Read More
center-pivot-irrigation-drop-sprinklers-on-corn
Precision IrrigationFinding Your Precision Ag Mindset
January 15, 2018
A precision mindset is the most important requirement for successful precision ag technology adoption. One of my first VRI (variable Read More
Drone-and-operator-Photo-courtesy-of-Kray-Technologies
DronesCrop Protection Application by Drone: A Q&A with Kr…
January 15, 2018
January is a busy month for agricultural companies. It’s a month that strong sales can set the mood for the Read More
Data ManagementAgGateway Grain Traceability Proof-of-Concept Seeks Ind…
January 15, 2018
AgGateway’s Precision Agriculture and Grain & Feed councils have issued a call for participation for a proof-of-concept initiative in AgGateway’s Read More
John-Deere-Cab-GPS
Data ManagementPrecision Ag Hardware and Software: A Little Off-Season…
January 11, 2018
All service technicians have heard this line. Most often when spring makes its anticipated return to our lives. It is Read More
Corn-Planter
Grower Services & SolutionsCorn Planter: The Train of Consequences
January 11, 2018
It’s always planter season in our shop but now that harvest is done the corn planter is the next piece Read More
Robotics/Labor SaversSmart Ag Announces Driverless Tractor Automation Platfo…
January 11, 2018
An Iowa technology company has unlocked the tremendous potential for automation in agriculture by developing the first cloud-based platform for Read More
Anez-Consulting-Paul-Anez-and-Michael-Dunn
Service ProvidersAnez Consulting: Focus On Fertility
January 9, 2018
Central Minnesota features variability aplenty when it comes to soil characteristics and topography, from flat, black expanses rich in organic Read More
Agrible
Grower Services & SolutionsAgrible to Launch Retailer Services in 2018
January 9, 2018
It’s a new year, which means new market challenges. Full service retailers are searching for ways to differentiate themselves and Read More
jeremy-speaking
Grower Services & SolutionsGrower and Precision Ag Services: Opportunities Lost
January 9, 2018
I often spend time with growers, talking about their operations, and the processes they go through each season to do Read More
Winters-Farming-farm-manager-Alex-Bergwerff-and-Ranch-Systems-marketing-and-business-development-manager-Hylon-Kaufmann
Precision IrrigationInside California Irrigation: Winters Farming
January 9, 2018
As many of us already know, almonds tend to get a bad rap for their water-use efficiency — or some Read More
Sentera software
DronesSentera Offering Elevation Data Mapping Via AgVault
January 9, 2018
Sentera announces the availability of elevation maps within the Sentera AgVault platform, offering agronomists, crop consultants, and growers additional field Read More
Industry NewsRaven, South Dakota State University Link Up: What You …
January 9, 2018
On Tuesday afternoon Raven and South Dakota State University (SDSU) held a press conference on the SDSU campus in Sioux Read More
Agrishow2017
Americas5 Best Ag Tech Shows in Brazil
January 8, 2018
Brazil continues to demonstrate its potential in agriculture. Several international companies are investing in our country because we have a Read More
Aarav-Unmanned-Systems-team
Asia12 Indian Agritech Startups to Watch Out For in 2018
January 3, 2018
Farming is a profession of hope. And India holds the record for the second-largest agricultural land in the world, with Read More
Amazone-Amaspot
Australia/New ZealandAmazone Set to Release Weed-Detecting Sprayer in Austra…
January 2, 2018
European farm machinery giant Amazone is set to release its UX trailed weed-detecting sprayer in Australia, which it says can Read More
drone-wheat-field
DronesAgricultural Drones: From Detection to Diagnosis
January 2, 2018
There is not a remote sensing platform that is innately better at all things: satellites, manned aircraft, and unmanned aerial Read More