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article imagePlantix, the app that helps farmers spot disease

By Tim Sandle     Oct 15, 2017 in Technology
Berlin - Designed in Germany and being successfully used in countries like Inida, the newly developed app Plantix allows farmers to identify pests from crop damage. The app also gives advice on how to treat crop diseases.
The Plantixa app was developed in Berlin, Germany, by a team of graduate science students who came together with the aim of helping farmers to combat disease, pest damage and nutrient deficiency. These are all devastating events that can eliminate an entire crop. Given that most of the world's farmers are small-holders, a disease can wipe out an entire season's potential revenue.
Diseases can be combated, however, if they are detected in good time. Often farmers are adept at noticing crop damage; what is more difficult is in knowing the type of diseases and determining the appropriate type of treatment. With this, the developers did not simply jump in and devise something for the world farming community.
Interviewed by the BBC, one of the developers, Charlotte Schumann, said: "t was really important for us to understand what farmers wanted, so we did a lot of groundwork in India."
With the app, simply by using just a standard smartphone picture, Plantix's image recognition is able to detect over 180 plant pests and diseases automatically. Examples include detecting potassium deficiency in a tomato plant, spotting rust on wheat, or assessing nutrient deficiency in a banana plant.
The app can also learn, Every picture improves Plantix image recognition. By uploading pictures, each farmer can help other farmers all over the world grow smart. Another feature is a connection with a user community. The community allows farmers to exchange knowledge about topics like crop cultivation, disease control and best practices.
The app can also assist with selecting land suitable for crop growing. Taking India as an example, according to the World Bank, India has 395 million acres of land available for cultivation, of which only 215 million acres are cultivated.
To commercialize the app and to lay the basis for new developments, the team behind the app have formed a startup venture called Peat (Progressive Environmental & Agricultural Technologies).
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