NEC Corporation (TSE: 6701) today announced the enhancement of CropScope, its agricultural ICT platform, which NEC has been operating jointly with Kagome Co, Ltd. since April 2020. New functions to improve farming have been added to the strengthened platform, and stable yields have already been achieved through verification in a variety of environments. As a result, NEC expects to expand the number of new contracts for the platform, and to contribute to the achievement of more sustainable farming by resolving challenging farming issues.
CropScope consists of a service that uses sensors and satellite photographs to visualize the growth status of tomatoes and the condition of soils, as well as a service that provides farming advice using artificial intelligence (AI). The AI capitalizes on a wealth of know-how from experienced cultivators, enabling it to provide guidance on the optimum amount of water, fertilizer and the best time to apply them. This platform enables tomato producers, regardless of skill level, to stabilize their harvests and reduce cultivation costs, while implementing environmentally-friendly farming.
In addition, the platform’s accumulation of farming knowledge from experienced workers enables know-how to be passed down, and successful farming production from experienced cultivators to be duplicated, thereby expanding the areas of production and providing support for the training of new farmers. Moreover, the operators and managers of processed tomato facilities can comprehensively understand the growth of tomatoes in both their own soils and the soils of contracted farmers, making it possible to optimize harvesting and improve productivity based on objective data.
Key enhancements to CropScope are as follows:
1. Strengthening the versatility of AI farming advice services
In 2020, NEC and Kagome conducted demonstration tests of CropScope in collaboration with an Australia-based Kagome subsidiary, KAGOME Australia Pty Ltd. Since the cultivation requirements for Australia differed from markets where CropScope had been applied in the past, such as Portugal, the platform gained important knowledge on soils, crop breeds, and irrigation facilities, including simulations on the water content of soils in the underlying irrigation system, recording data from trained cultivators and enhancing analytical methods. This has enabled the platform to deliver the same harvest capacity as trained cultivators in a variety of environments, ranging from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere.
2. Improve the convenience of applications based on user feedback
Based on the feedback of large-scale users of CropScope worldwide, NEC has improved the usability of applications by including the ability to identify field abnormalities, such as changes in the soil and water content, the ability to determine farming priorities for individual fields, expressing data in a simple manner, and the ability to analyze accumulated data between fields in order to improve farming methods.
Going forward, the two companies aim to accelerate the growth of this business by strengthening proposals for processed tomato manufacturers, particularly in Europe and the Americas, and for tomato production companies.
“We aim to realize environmentally friendly and highly profitable farming in the cultivation of tomatoes for processing globally. Since 2020, we have been expanding the AI farming support tool CropScope, which we jointly developed using NEC’s cutting-edge technologies. This tool was renewed in April 2021 to strengthen our ability to provide solutions. In addition, we will accelerate the resolution of the issues that producers face in the farming field, and aim to realize sustainable farming,” said Kengo Nakata, General Manager, Smart Agri Division, Kagome.
“In its strategic partnership with Kagome, NEC has been expanding digitization in the tomato market. At the same time, NEC has responded to the challenges faced by its production sites by enhancing the versatility of farming advice utilizing AI, which is NEC’s specialty, and strengthening its ‘CropScope’ platform. NEC will continue to develop and provide solutions that contribute to the cultivation of a wide range of crops, helping to overcome social issues, climate change and food safety concerns, while creating sustainable farming experiences,” said Teruyuki Nakajima, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Corporate Business Development Division, NEC Corporation.