AG InnovaTech’s focus is on disease risk management in crop protection spray application in the larger fields of banana, pineapple, and sugarcane. In general they deploy one Arable Mark 2 device per customer’s field; Costa Rican agriculture runs year-round, with two seasons: summer and rainy. The weather forecasts they use most include precipitation, wind speed, wind direction, and relative humidity. Observed trends include leaf wetness, NDVI, chlorophyll index, and growth stages. They combine these metrics with their extensive knowledge of diseases like sigatoka, Fusarium, and roya (in coffee) to determine the best spray windows for a given disease, in a specific crop, at a particular phase, in a certain location. Having a bird’s-eye view of real-time data across locations streamlines the time they spend with each customer, and lowers operational and maintenance costs.
Additionally, in sugarcane, they closely monitor the canopy growth to determine when best to spray an herbicide to bring on weed die-down and keep the sugarcane thriving. In pineapples, they use weather alerts to monitor nighttime temperatures in the fields during three critical months (October, November, December) to mitigate damage from abnormally low temperatures at night, since cold weather makes the fruit unpalatable. Spotting these trends early helps AGInnovaTech recommend preventive measures faster and more reliably.
In one industrial sugarcane field in northern Costa Rica, AGInnovaTech’s commercial technical leader, Yhenner Umaña, decided to test the effect of magnesium levels in soil amendments. Magnesium is the central element found in chlorophyll, which is critical for photosynthesis to occur. Higher chlorophyll levels would indicate a greater ability to produce biomass, the goal of industrial sugarcane production.
He placed two Mark devices in one field; in one hectare of the field, he applied dolomite lime, and in another, calcium carbonate. He monitored the chlorophyll index and NDVI weekly with the Arable app to see if he could detect any differences, and what they might be, in order to inform input strategies.
These types of highly specialized analyses are what give AGInnovaTech an edge over their competitors; they aren’t making recommendations based solely on models, generalizations, and past experience. They are using data direct from the very field they are managing. Through alerts and team management features, they control who sees data from the various locations, and compare different customers’ data to benchmark regional trends and anomalies.
Beyond using weather data that is more accurate than remote-sensed and easier to access than manual scouting, being able to show a customer what is happening in their field in real time raises AGInnovaTech’s profile as a high-touch service provider who is an expert in their customers’ particular circumstances. This engenders the kind of loyalty that brings greater long-term returns and helps them foster change on the ground, educating growers on best practices on very personal terms.