farmAR: Helping farmers making sustainable decisions based on satellite data

Healthy land and rich soils are crucial for sustainable agriculture. With farmAR, a pioneering idea of using virtual reality based on Earth observation (EO) satellite imagery for an agricultural app, Beril Sirmacek was a finalist in the Copernicus Masters DLR Environment, Energy and Health Challenge in 2016.

Making the invisible visible with a mobile app

The aim of farmAR is to bring information about land and crops directly to the farmer’s mobile phone. The application uses Copernicus data and sends the processed satellite data to the app users. Farmers can thus be aware of all the relevant information in the field that is normally invisible to the human eye. This leads to quicker and more efficient decision-making by farmers. On site, they can directly decide about the next work steps and save time and money by reducing unnecessary chemical usage. As a further positive side effect, plants become healthier and the soil becomes richer.

Beril’s experience in satellite data processing, cloud computing, visualisation, mobile app development and augmented and virtual reality gave her the opportunity to create this service. As one of the top 40 Copernicus Masters entrants in 2016, Beril gained access to the first edition of the Copernicus Accelerator, a unique coaching programme initiated by the European Commission. With her mentor Martijn Leinweber, Community Manager of ESA BIC Noordwijk, the idea of such an app became more concrete. Shortly after the start of the coaching service made available through the acceleration programme, Linda van Duivenbode joined the team and currently contributes to the continuous progress of the project with more than 20 years of experience in business development, project management, market research and innovation management.

Beril and Linda now work closely together on turning the idea of farmAR into reality. Their current focus is to test the full framework with selected potato growers and to bring the app service into line with the Copernicus services, in order to have the framework functioning fully automatic. The team’s next goal will be the application for the incubation programme at one of the ESA Business Incubation Centres (BICs) in order to continue with the creation of a start-up and get the app ready for market entry.

Interested in the benefits of farmAR?

The official app will be provided for free. Users will be able to receive their up-to-date satellite-derived results after subscribing to the farmAR database. If you would like to test the app before public release, please visit its official website to contact the team.

Words from the Copernicus Accelerator mentor:

Last year in November, I met Beril for the first time at the boot camp in Madrid. Beril told me about her idea to help farmers with an augmented reality solution. Nowadays, we face challenges worldwide due to the growing population, and improvements in the quality and quantity of food are one of the most important topics. There is a great deal of potential in EO data for agricultural applications. Beril’s idea could be one solution that offers considerable business potential as well.

Together, we decided on the actions that needed to be undertaken to verify whether her application provides real added value to farmers. First, Beril had to find a co-founder and find an existing agricultural problem worth addressing with her solution. The next objective was to find interested customers, i.e. farmers who are willing to test and use the farmAR application. The last few months proved that Beril is on the right track, as her team completely succeeded in that.

The journey of supporting the team has been an incredible experience for me. It is great to see how Beril is growing as an entrepreneur and that she and Linda are an excellent match. I am proud to see that the team has already gained recognition and valuable support from their network and that they found a farmer to test their product, who is immensely helpful to them in order to fine-tune the app for the first app release.

The team now is working hard on getting their proposal ready for the next selection round of ESA Business Incubation Centre (BIC) Noordwijk in order to launch their business. And I would be more than happy to support them further.

Mentor:

Martijn Leinweber
Community Manager ESA BIC Noordwijk
Space Business Innovation Centre Noordwijk

Do you want to write your own chapter of the Copernicus Masters success story? Then go ahead and sign up now for the 2017 edition until 30 June to turn your idea into business, just like the farmAR team did.

About the Copernicus Masters and the Copernicus Accelerator
AZO has launched the Copernicus Masters in 2011 on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA) and with strong support of world-class partners as part of their mission to foster the User Uptake of Copernicus services. The Copernicus Masters is an international competition which awards prizes to innovative solutions for business and society based on Earth observation data. The Copernicus Masters has developed into the moving force of promoting cutting-edge solutions. In 2016, the European Commission has launched Copernicus Accelerator. This one-of-a-kind programme is focused on providing a tailored business coaching service for up to 50 finalists in the Copernicus Masters competition. Sign up now for the Copernicus Masters 2017 until 30 June.

Matthias Engler is experienced in various forms of corporate communications, including both internal and external communications. As Content Marketing Manager at AZO his main professional expertise and passion lie in writing press releases, articles, stories and operating the social media channel communication. In addition he is responsible for the operative coordination of media partnerships.

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