Autonomous Nocturnal Robots: Pest Monitoring and Control

“The robot captures images of the crop through cameras and multispectral sensors and, from there, it is able to identify pests, diseases, crop quality…”

Emerson Marcelo Crepaldi is the Brazil and South America COO at Solinftec, graduated in business administration from Anhanguera Educacional, with a master’s degree and MBA from Getúlio Vargas Foundation.

Emerson Crepaldi, COO at Solinftec

AgriBrasilis – What does Soliftec do? What crops are your solutions targeting?

Emerson Crepaldi – Our goal is to increase the efficiency and sustainability of agricultural operations. The company was consolidated for working with real time suggestions, easing the data and information management, and simplifying decision-making for farmers. We develop solutions for the sugar-ethanol, grains, fiber, perennial crops and forestry markets.

The solutions made available to the agricultural market are part of the ALICE AI artificial intelligence, that monitors 12 million hectares. In 2022, the robotic platform Solix Ag Robotics became part of our portfolio, aimed at large-scale food production.

AgriBrasilis – What is Solinftec’s revenue? When should the company reach breakeven of its operations?

Emerson Crepaldi – We have a good customer base with recurring contracts. In this way, the company adjusted the pace of expansion and generated efficiency. At the beginning of 2023, our billing in recurring revenue grew more than 20% compared to 2022 and we reached a breakeven with US$ 62.75 million in recurring revenue (ARR).

In recent years, we have grown 60% with operations in Brazil, South America, USA and Canada. Among our key investors are Unbox Capital, AgFunder, The Lightsmith Group, TPG and Blue Like an Orange.

AgriBrasilis – How is monitoring carried out in sugarcane crops and what data is generated? What is the purpose of this information?

Emerson Crepaldi – The sugar-ethanol market doesn’t stop. This market has a great need to reinvent itself, year after year. Therefore, our mission is to improve the efficiency of the sector.

Our technology works by integrating monitoring, productivity, traceability and logistics, seeking to ensure maximum crop profitability. We have 95% market share. We achieved this presence through solutions focused on cutting, loading and transhipment.

In 2023, we are betting on the Cana+ Program, focused on increasing productivity in sugarcane fields, that has been stagnant for some years. We seek this increase in productivity through solutions such as:

  • Diagnosis of the sugarcane field through the analysis of spatial and temporal variability;
  • Microclimate assessment, that correlates the operational part with the moment of input applications, seeking the quality of the operation;
  • Fertigation, from logistics to application, control and sprinkler quality, avoiding overlaps;
  • Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication, that optimizes inputs to control application traffic;
  • Traffic reduction and control during sugarcane harvesting, avoiding soil compaction resulting from overlapping of the passage of machines in certain areas;
  • The robotic platform Solix AG Robotics, that performs constant monitoring, detecting problems such as weeds, insects and other challenges in sugarcane fields.

AgriBrasilis – How does Hunter, Solinftec’s autonomous robot, used to combat pests, work?

Emerson Crepaldi – Hunter is a nocturnal robot that attracts insects through specific wavelengths of light and eliminates them with electroshocks. This robot roams the farms at night, with the aim of fighting pests before they reach the oviposition stage, without posing a risk to pollinators, that are daytime insects.

Hunter manages to control pests of greater economic interest to agribusiness, such as Lepidoptera (moths); Coleoptera (beetles, such as weevils); Orthoptera (grasshoppers and mole crickets); Hemiptera (whitefly and corn leafhopper) and Diptera (flies and mosquitoes).

Hunter is autonomous and has solar panels to generate the energy needed for its nocturnal missions. For this, the platform uses two driving methods: a high-precision GPS (RTK), that allows it to follow previously programmed lines, as well as cameras and computer vision, that identify the location of the plants and direct the robot to walk without stepping on the planting lines.

This conduction is directed by ALICE AI, that identifies the most efficient route and the ideal moment to act, making the robot travel only where necessary. More models are part of the robotic platform that, through the association of tasks with integrated pest management (IPM) in crops, promote the rational use of agrochemicals.

The robotic platform allows the monitoring of each plant, that favors the discovery of pests at an early stage and a faster control, with lower usage of pesticides. The robot captures images of the crop through cameras and multispectral sensors and, from there, it is able to identify pests, diseases, crop quality, analyze plant height, nutrition and health.



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