Switzerland, Gland– A unique AI technology that allows growers to tune into the early warnings of disease, pests, nutrient deficiencies and water stress that all plants communicate has received €1.8 million of funding from ePlant, Inc. and Astanor Ventures.
The ‘Fitbit of plants’, PhytlSigns is the first commercial crop health diagnostic system based on plant electrophysiology – the collection of internal electrical, mechanical and chemical signalling networks plants use to coordinate growth, reproduction and defence.
The technology leads to increased yields, improved crop protection effectiveness, and encourages the adoption of environmentally preferable protection solutions – so more food, less chemicals.
Produced by Swiss biosignals specialists, Vivent, it was previously successfully deployed in sophisticated greenhouses and has now been proven effective for field-grown crops, meaning it can serve a much wider range of growers and crops across Europe and North America.
Vivent has worked with greenhouse growers throughout the last full season, using PhytlSigns to monitor their crops in real-time. The information the technology provides supports their decision-making on climate control for indoor applications, as well as for irrigation, crop protection and fertilisation.
It is currently used on tomatoes, peppers, strawberries and eggplants. Field trials on tomato, apple and grape crops have also proven the efficacy of this technology for an increasingly wider range of high-value fruit and nut crops.
“Thanks to powerful machine learning, we can support plant-centred growing, learning directly from the plant what it needs to produce safer, higher-quality and tastier food,” says Carrol Plummer, Vivent founder and CEO. “We are very excited to be working with ePlant so that together we can support more sustainable agriculture of all kinds.”
Joseph Rizzi, Chairman at ePlant and new Vivent board member, says: “Vivent is pioneering a deeper relationship with plants. It is remarkable to be able to see precisely how plants respond to stressors in the environment and to learn how we can use these signals to support better crop and tree management in the face of climate change.”
“We are convinced of the disruptive potential of the technology and hence excited about continuing to support the team at Vivent,” says Christina Ulardic, partner at Astanor Ventures.
Vivent announced a partnership with Bayer in August to accelerate the discovery of innovative crop protection chemistry.
Vivent was founded in 2012 by well-known serial entrepreneurs Carrol Plummer and Dr. Nigel Wallbridge, who have now applied their information processing and telecommunication system skills to biological networking, with an initial focus on crops. The pair have worked with leading agricultural institutes, universities, crop protection companies and growers to validate this innovative approach. Vivent’s focus is on high-capital indoor growing operations with plans to move into high-value outdoor crops and then into large volume field crops. More information is available at www.phytlsigns.com
ePlant creates simple to use solutions for growing plants and trees using innovative Internet of Things (IoT) devices and cloud Artificial Intelligence (AI). We use cutting edge sensors, simple, wireless IoT networking, and impeccable software and apps to serve the forestry, agriculture, landscape and garden markets.
About Astanor Ventures:
Astanor Ventures is a global impact investor that backs ambitious entrepreneurs with disruptive, scalable solutions that will create systemic change across the agrifood value chain, from soil to gut. They partner with founders that are committed to restoring balance and sustainability to the land and oceans, prioritizing nature and culture, nurturing change and feeding growth.
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