A unique AI technology that allows growers to tune into the early warnings of disease, pests, nutrient deficiencies, and water stress that plants communicate has received €1.8 million of funding from ePlant 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 signaling networks plants use to coordinate growth, reproduction, and defense.
PhytlSigns and tomatoes
The technology leads to increased yields, improved crop protection effectiveness, and encourages the adoption of environmentally preferable protection solutions – in short: more food, fewer chemicals.
Produced by Swiss biosignals specialists Vivent, it was previously successfully deployed in 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 fertilization.
Carrol Plummer and Nigel Wallbridge
The sensor 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-centered 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 we can support more sustainable agriculture of all kinds together.”
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.