January 17, 2019

AusTrade: A FluroSat Success Story

Anastasia Volkova, PhD
Chief Executive Officer

Australian crop health monitoring agtech startup, FluroSat, is helping farmers grow better crops, and grow them more efficiently – both in Australia and internationally.

FluroSat uses state-of-the-art crop models, combined with remote sensing imagery and local weather data, to estimate crop performance in season and suggest precision fixes to improve the grower’s triple bottom line.

FluroSense, the analytics engine that runs these optimisations, connects to farm management systems and weather stations and sources satellite or aerial imagery.

FluroSat takes the information from the remote sensing imagery and translates it into actionable data that farmers can use – in real time – to make informed decisions about crop management and crop health.

Based on the difference identified in spectral satellite or aerial imagery, FluroSense can identify lack of nutrients, irrigation failures or development of crop stress, such as pests or disease. An agronomist or a farmer using FluroSense can then tailor the platform’s machine learning algorithms to better identify crop stress by labelling the stressed regions identified in their fields.

The crop models we have access to are world-recognised and best-in-class. We are using remote sensing and machine learning to tailor these models’ insights to specific farms, making the science immediately actionable.

‘Our online platform, which combines crop growth models with imaging technology and weather information, gives us an advanced level of innovation and problem solving,’ says Anastasia Volkova, FluroSat’s co-founder and CEO. ‘For example, we can see the difference between water stress and nitrogen deficiency stress in a crop, detect hail and frost damage, and learn the difference between a diseased outbreak and pest infestation. Often our platform can detect the first signs of these stresses before they are noticeable to a human eye.'

With this technology, growers can achieve up to 10-25% better yields, while using 30% less fertiliser and 35% less water.

Farmers, the environment, and the bottom line will all benefit from less water wastage, less pesticides, and the controlled use of fertilisers.

Strong research and scientific background

Australia has a positive collaborative system and practical approach that are ideal for developing products and solutions, Volkova says. ‘There’s strong research and scientific background here, a lot of R&D, and a lot of investment. Networks and links between researchers, research institutions, universities and startups are good, and there are investors who support startups.’

She says that FluroSat has been fortunate in having the opportunity to work with startup incubators and accelerators, both in Australia and the United States.

The company’s HQ is located at Sydney-based incubator, Cicada Innovations. Founded by four of the country’s top universities – the University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales, the University of Technology and the Australian National University – Cicada supports science-based innovation by providing startups with business support and access to advisors, industry and research partners.

FluroSat also participated in a program with a US foodtech accelerator, FS6, based in Silicon Valley. The company is now setting up a US office to increase its reach into the American market.

'This experience gave us an opportunity to be closer to the US agricultural system and customers', says Volkova.

A closeness between the research community and farmers

Volkova believes the future of agriculture is in artificial intelligence–assisted farming: ‘Daily insights at the paddock level are gathered from satellite and weather data, and sent to farmers every morning.’

Farmers in Australia are very much aware of scientific approaches that could help with their most difficult problems, she remarks.

‘There’s a closeness between the research community and farmers in this country. There has to be. Farmers have to be aware of state-of-the-art scientific solutions to their problems to survive the difficult environmental conditions here.’

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