Thursday, 12th December 2019

Delivering data to farmers to feed the world

Trying to feed the world is no easy feat. Springg IT-platform, is doing its part by making it possible to provide fertilizer advice to farmers in the most remote regions of the globe.

Springg (part of DutchSprouts) is a software company that is dedicated to helping farmers produce more crops. But how do you feed a world with a growing number of people in it? Dutch Sprouts is helping to increase the worldwide yield target to be able to feed everyone on earth in 2050, because they know that giving fertilizer advice to farmers in rural areas can increase their yield target up to 500% in some cases.
Farmers used to have to wait for weeks, even months for soil testing results to be returned. Only about 20 million farmers are able to get to laboratories to get tests, and there are 500 million farmers that need access to this information.
“In 2013, we started DutchSprouts, which Springg is part off, to help all farmers have access to laboratories as the western world has,” says Wouter Kerkhof, CEO.
Wouter continues, “You can make the biggest change in countries outside Europe and not in the western world, but in places like the middle of Africa. We worked with the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation to start with Kenya, and then go out to the rest of Africa,” says Wouter.
Enter technology
Dutch Sprouts’ SoilCares started by literally driving the sensors out to the areas of need. “We had a lab with sensors that we placed in the back end of trucks. Farmers bring soil samples to these trucks, we do the soil analysis, and they have fertilizer reports back within two hours,” said Wouter.
The mobile soil testing labs are very expensive – the trucks complete with the sensors total around $100,000 each – still, that sum is far less than the millions of dollars a single physical laboratory would cost. However, the trucks will never be able to reach the hundreds of millions of farmers that need this information. To make this data more accessible, Dutch Sprouts works on a handheld sensor, about 10x10 cm size, with a target to sell them at a low price. This smartphone-enabled SoilCares scanner allows farmers to take their own soil samples, then connect with the SoilCares app – and just two clicks later, they get the calibration of nutrients in the soil. For all testing, each farmer pays per measurement, or per click with the handheld devices. “We want to keep this technology as affordable to farmers as possible,” says Wouther.
Why Talend?
In 2013, Springg was ready to develop a scalable architecture. Says Wouter: “We were looking for a fast and reliable solution that could grow to handle all the data we had now and expected in future.”
A partner had extolled the virtues of ESB platforms, so that was the direction in which the Springg team was looking. Initially, Springg interviewed other companies to inquire about their architectures. One of those companies in the Netherlands was a Talend customer, so Wouter and his team dug a little deeper into Talend. “We trusted their software, it looked understandable, I’m not a technical guy myself, and we got a strong feeling it would work out with Talend.”
The Talend team presented a proof of concept, and Springg liked what it saw, and from there, they engaged Talend to begin the build out. Springg noted that among the deciding factors were Talend’s large open source support community, and the subscription-based pricing that was straightforward and able to handle Springg’s anticipated fast growth and still keep the costs in control.
“We selected Talend and started creating the first services and we kept on building and building. It’s one of the most important items in the architecture, everything goes through the Talend system,” says Wouter.
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