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fev 16, 2018
Innovation and technology

Embrapa to use big data to monitor apple pests in Brazil's south

Thanks to a partnership with the Rio Grande do Sul Apple Producers Association (Agapomi) and Israeli data startup AgriTask, Brazil’s Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) has found an innovative way to combat disease and pests on apple-growing farms in the southern region of Brazil – by using an intelligent crowdsourced data platform.

Aimed at reducing the need for the use of pesticides, avoiding repeated infestation and improving the overall quality of fruits to be exported, Embrapa plans to employ AgriTask's cutting-edge technology which allows the pooling of data across farms of the entire region. Measurements of results are recorded at every stage of the productive chain and shared among all local farms, allowing for better planning, decision-making and risk management.

The AgriTask platform has been likened to "the Waze of agriculture" by its founder and CEO Israel Fraier, a reference to another Israeli startup which uses crowdsourced data to provide up-to-date information on traffic patterns, acquired by Google in 2013. AgriTask has the same purpose for the agricultural sector, supplying farmers with detailed data in order to make better decisions and reduce losses and risk.

Embrapa specialist Adalécio Kovaleski highlighted the principal benefit of implementing the big data technology – that it allows the gathering of information across an entire region, not just a select number of individual farms. “Normally, each producer will do their own monitoring and interpret the data themselves, and it is not always a fast process. With this program, the gathering of this information becomes much quicker and it allows us to get a regional view [of apple pests]," he said.

Kovaleski gave the example of orchards suffering from repeat infestations of pests that had already been eliminated in that particular farm, but not in neighboring orchards – a situation avoided by the use of the AgriTask platform. “We’ve got a higher capacity of evaluating occurrences of pests in the region and we can employ more efficient management practices."

The southern region of Brazil, made up of the states of Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul and Paraná, is the largest apple-producing region of the country. Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul alone account for 95 percent of the national apple production, with the annual harvest usually reaching above 1 million tons of the fruit. According to data from the Department of Foreign Commerce (Secex), approximately 55,400 tons of Brazilian apples were exported in 2017 between the months of January and October.