Slava Mazai, CEO at OneSoil reveals how the Belarusian startup managed to detect 57 million fields around the world, and how to make precision farming available to every farmer at no cost.
OneSoil will participate in the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit for the first time. In general, you’re a newbie in the world of agtech. What is the unique OneSoil offering?
Strictly speaking, we’ve been around – I’m developing tools for precision farming together with the other co-founder, Usevalad Henin, since 2014. OneSoil was founded only in 2017. Our main product is a free OneSoil web platform for precision farming. Its cornerstone is a technology that allows allocating field borders and crops automatically. It helps a farmer select the field in a few clicks and within a couple of seconds. Also, we show the vegetation index for the field, and calculate variable rates for application of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium fertilizers. Another feature is a weather forecast for five days and visualization of data from agricultural equipment. The platform was launched in June 2018, and we plan to add a bunch of new features this year. Currently, the platform works in Europe, the US, and Canada, and we plan to open it for the whole world by the end of 2019.
And you say all this is for free. How is that possible? What’s your business model?
We don’t charge farmers anything, this is our principle. We want to show that switching to precision farming is easy. At an early stage, you don’t need to buy expensive equipment or install complex software. There are tools like our web platform and OneSoil Scouting Android app that give you insights immediately. We do realize that the world’s population is constantly growing, while the amount of agricultural land remains the same. To feed people, farmers need to make the best use of their land, and we’re helping them with that.
Speaking of the business model, we have investments now and we plan to provide services and technologies to other market players – agricultural holdings, seeds and pesticides producers, banks, insurance companies. We signed our first B2B contract at the end of last year, however, I can’t reveal the name of the company yet.
Let’s talk about technologies. OneSoil products are built on analysis of satellite images, and machine learning algorithms. A whole bunch of companies does that, so is there anything that makes you special?
Thanks to our data science team we make a quick and very high-quality analysis that no one else can make. To show what our technologies are capable of, we created the OneSoil Map. This is the first interactive map that contains information on 57 million fields and 27 crops in 46 countries across Europe and the USA for every year since 2016. For an individual field, you can see its size, crop, chart of plant development, and a field score. You can also compare different ratings for regions and countries. What’s important, you can obtain all information within just one second. The map was released in October last year, and this became a big achievement for us.
OneSoil Map, the first interactive agricultural map with detected fields and crops
The statistics we obtain with machine learning algorithms is often more accurate than the one collected manually. In general, data is of the main value for us. The more data we have, the more accurate our predictions and forecasts are. That’s why we collaborate with farmers a lot: we’re constantly talking to them, visiting their farms, also we conduct field trials together. To sum up, we already know more about fields than many companies and states, and we plan to provide custom reports and analytics based on this data.
In your opinion, who can be interested in such kind of data?
Different players in the agricultural market. Buyers and financial analysts will be able to predict yields and trends in local and global markets. Insurance companies will assess risks better. Large commodity companies can minimize their marketing budgets and easily find new customers for their products and services. As for the governments, they will be able to get accurate statistics about fields and crops on their territory.
Clement Matyuhov, Director of Business Development at OneSoil
What are the current plans for OneSoil and why is the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit important to this strategy?
We are constantly developing the web platform, new features are being added every month. As for an upcoming couple of years, we want to build the largest community of farmers in the world. Our ultimate goal is to build a platform that will analyze the data, build forecasts and suggest reasonable agronomic decisions with minimize human involvement.
We hope that our participation in the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit will help us meet experts and innovators in the agtech field. We seek smart collaborations and professional opinions on our product. Actually, participation in the Summit is not the only goal of our visit. We want to go out to the fields, and meet American farmers. We want to better understand daily operation, learn about their authentic experiences, and see how OneSoil can help them.
Meet other members of the OneSoil team at World Agri-Tech:
Clement Matyuhov, Director of Business Development. Look out for Clement chairing the panel discussion on ‘Precision Farming: How does precision farming scale between developed and developing countries?’ on Tuesday, March 19 at 5pm.
Say hello to Sasha Yakovlev, Co-Founder and Head of Product, and Christina Butsko, Data Scientist, at Stand #3 in the Golden Gate Exhibition and Networking area.