15-30% of crop yields are lost worldwide each year due to plant diseases and pests, Simone Strey points out. "This often endangers the existence of small farmers especially." Together with a team of seven at her start-up Peat, Simone Strey has developed Plantix, an app that automatically detects plant diseases and pests based on photos.
At the heart of the app is an artificial neuronal network which recognizes diseases and pest infestations on mobile phone photos. From new sample images sent by Plantix users, the network constantly learns more. In this way, the company is building "a globally unique data base," says Strey. The company aims to sell this data to clients, such as plant protection authorities or research institutes. Reportedly, they are also in discussions with drone manufacturers. The drones could monitor large fields, to then analyze critical areas for early signs of disease - and treat them quickly. Thus, the now common preventive spraying could be curbed. On the other hand, companies can directly advertise their products, such as pesticides, sensors or advisory services, within the app.