Precision farming solutions have traditionally been sold as products. Semios came into the market from the start with a whole different model, as a service provider.
Semios uses IoT to offer precision farming as a service
Semios helps growers find a safer alternative to harmful pesticides by providing pest management systems using a network of connected devices including pheromone dispensers, automated traps, soil moisture meters and weather stations. The Internet of Things (IoT) enables the key elements of precision agriculture by providing critical connectivity and allowing Semios to gather the right information to help growers make better decisions about their crops.
Semios views Cisco Jasper as an essential partner in delivering its services. The company has originally focused on monitoring and controlling insects for farmers. However after putting in place a network of devices and connecting to Control Center, Semios saw an opportunity to solve additional problems, including frost control, irrigation and disease management to help increase the farms’ yield and profitability.
Semios helps farmers embrace IoT to find healthier alternatives to pesticides
Who wouldn’t want produce grown using safer, more natural methods? Fruit and nut growers around the world are looking into ways to reduce the use of harmful, toxic pesticides and switch to more sustainable and eco-friendly pest management methods.
Vancouver-based Semios has been offering such solutions since 2010, providing pest management systems using a network of connected devices including pheromone dispensers, automated traps, soil moisture meters, leaf-wetness monitoring and weather stations.
“Pheromones are an alternative to pesticides,” explains Michael Gilbert, CEO and Founder of Semios. “Insects communicate with each other via pheromones, using scent essentially. If we can tap into that communication, we can modify the insect behavior and prevent them from damaging the crops.”
A series of devices placed around an orchard collects information on pest count and notifies the grower if a pressure threshold has been reached. Semios camera traps enable visual inspection of each field trap, while specialized software helps make predictions based on historical information, as well as current wind and weather patterns. Using this information, remotely controlled dispensers deliver pheromones that disrupt insects’ communication pathways and reproduction behaviors.
“The challenge is that pheromones are generally more expensive than pesticides,” says Gilbert. “To get the growers to adopt pheromones we need to automate their delivery in a way that’s going to be more cost-effective.”
Traditionally, pheromones were deployed at a constant rate through an entire season. By constantly monitoring and measuring the insect activity, Semios delivers a solution that targets the pheromone release during the insects’ peak activity cycles. “You get better control and it’s much more cost-effective,” adds Gilbert.
This targeted approach to solving problems in the field is known as precision farming. The two key elements of precision agriculture are the provision of information based on data collected from the field and, based on that information, timely, precise action to manage the crop. The Internet of Things (IoT) is at the heart of precision farming, enabling critical connectivity and allowing solution providers such as Semios to gather the right information to help growers make better decisions about their crops.
IoT and Cisco Jasper help set Semios apart from competition as a service company
Semios views Cisco Jasper as an essential partner in delivering their services. “The Control Center platform enables our business model,” says Gilbert.
Control Center gives Semios constant control over the ever-growing number of devices deployed in the field. Its user-friendly and intuitive interface helps streamline operations for Semios across different carrier networks.
“Control Center means we only need to understand one platform, even though we deal with a lot of carriers around the world, through Europe, the U.S. and Canada,” says Gilbert. “Control Center is a one-stop shop for managing our connected devices.”
Growers typically purchase Semios devices already equipped with a SIM card. The company uses Control Center to automate the process of provisioning and managing devices deployed in the field by the grower.
For any agricultural service company, sending a technician in the field to diagnose and resolve problems can be prohibitively expensive. Control Center allows Semios to remotely monitor and fix many issues in the field.
Transforming precision farming via the Internet of Things
Gilbert credits automation for successfully transitioning farmers from spraying toxic pesticides on a bi-weekly basis to the targeted application of pheromones.
“Growing fruits, nuts and grapes is getting more and more complicated,” Gilbert says. “Growers need to understand everything, from soil to tractors, equipment, HR, pest management and controlling insects. They have to know what chemicals are allowed, especially if they are exporting. Whatever we can do to pull information to help them make better decisions makes their lives much easier.”
When Semios first launched its product, the company focused solely on monitoring and controlling insects for farmers. However after putting in place a network of devices and connecting to the Cisco Jasper platform, Semios saw an opportunity to solve additional problems, including frost control, irrigation and disease management.
“In our industry, precision farming solutions have traditionally been sold as products, explains Gilbert. “Semios came into the market from the start with a whole different model, as a service provider. Most growers don’t want to get into the details of technology, and we can deliver our solutions as a service—our customers won’t need to know how it works or how to fix it.”
Semios is planning its next wave of expansion into Latin America, the region that serves as the off-season source of fruit for North America and Europe. Gilbert believes that delivering a solution-as-a-service will give his company a competitive edge.
“If we just bring hardware, it’s more difficult for new markets to readily adopt. But if we deliver it as a service through IoT, it makes it easier for growers to try, and the results will help convince farmers that this is a better pest control solution,” he concludes.