Certainly, if Augmenta can help improve on the agricultural status quo, as demanded by the people on the ground themselves, this recent trip by its Co-founders continues to prove that the company is more than equal to the challenge.
“They were staggered when we started explaining how the new service works during our first meeting,” recalled Dimitri. “Exactly!” enthused George in support. “They just couldn't believe we'd come up with it so quickly – that we'd even come up with it at all!” he added. “It was quite an Augmenta moment,” they both agreed with proud smiles.
Augmenta fully understands the importance of forging and maintaining close relationships with its distributors, partners and clientele around the world. Despite the challenges posed by continuing Covid-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions, it has managed to expand its global operations while still serving and strengthening all its regional Augmenta Communities.
Take Ukraine, for example. On a rare joint trip in late June 2021, both Augmenta Co-founders, Dimitri (Jim) Evangelopoulos and George Varvarelis embodied this company ethos when they decided to pay a whirlwind visit. “While Skype or Zoom calls have their place in a pinch, there is absolutely no substitute for face-to-face meetings when it comes to understanding farmer's needs, getting feedback, and bringing synergy and real value to our relationships,” explained George.
On a previous trip made in April 2021, Dimitri met with local Ukrainian agronomists and farmers working for one of the country's largest global suppliers of agricultural products, the Kernel Group. The company has their own soil sampling laboratory, which allows them to create highly accurate productivity zone maps, upon which different input prescriptions for nutrients/fertilizers are made.
While appreciating the ability of the Augmenta System to optimize N-VRA (Nitrogen Variable Rate Application) based on a recommended dose per field, their requirement was that different recommended doses based on soil sampling could be applied to different areas within the same field.
This posed a considerable challenge – no one at Augmenta had ever considered the possibility of providing such a service before. But it got everyone thinking, and a whole chain of events was soon set in motion back at Augmenta's R&D labs in Athens, Greece.
Two months later, on the more recent trip, Dimitri and George were able to present the Kernel Group with Augmenta's brand new, tried and tested Multi N-VRA service. It comes as a simple over-the-air software upgrade and like all new services, it is immediately available to those who already own an Augmenta System.
After this resounding success, Dimitri and George went on to visit Smart Farming (https://www.smartfarming.ua/), a large Ukrainian agricultural service provider focused on improving efficiency, and therefore kindred spirits. Having already heard of the Augmenta System and its unparalleled abilities, the good people at Smart Farming were eager to learn more. Dimitri and George demonstrated how to retrofit a unit to an ordinary John Deere sprayer, then loaded the tank with water (it was just a test) and invited the attendant farmers to put the Augmenta System through its paces.
The field used happened to be highly variable, with good and poor growth areas interspersed with arid patches and other anomalies – conditions in which the Augmenta System especially excels. Satellite imagery, by comparison, simply does not have enough resolution to detect small no-growth areas, and therefore cannot match the precision of the Augmenta System. The data, which is instantly accessible on the Augmenta Web Portal via a standard 3G/4G connection, was analyzed by a Smart Farming agronomist, who extolled that she had never seen anything like it in her life.
Video presentation/interview here:
This side-by-side comparison between satellite imagery and the field map generated by the Augmenta System and its 4K, 12 pixels/cm hyper-spectual camera array. It highlights the accuracy which can be achieved by Augmented Farming. As the Augmenta System also automatically takes 4K RGB ground-level snapshots when crop anomalies are detected, accuracy can easily be verified. On seeing these results for the first time, the astounded people at Smart Farming realised just how beneficial such precision could be to their extensive agroholding operations.
Having requested an Augmenta System earlier, they installed it themselves and had been using it to collect data for some time. It gave Dimitri and George the opportunity to demonstrate how the Augmenta Web Portal automatically correlates collected data to generate a full range of operational analytics, ROI reports, customizable 'what if' scenarios using the VFM (Virtual Fertilization Map) feature and more. Fleet management tools, including real-time vehicle tracking were also shown and explained. A point of particular praise from the Ukrainians was the snapshot facility which automatically (and/or manually) captures hi-res images when crop anomalies are detected. This allows later analysis back in the office, should it be required. The unique feature is invaluable, especially on large agroholdings typically found in Ukraine.
There is no doubt that the trip offered further invaluable insights into local particularities, as offered in person by the Ukrainian farmers and agronomists themselves. These will be used to further hone the Augmenta System to meet local needs and benefit the wider Augmenta Community. It also proved that not only is the Augmenta System powerful and flexible enough to cater for the specific needs of specific markets, but the Augmenta Team is more than willing to direct their energies and resources towards serving those needs.
“By having the farmer's best interests at heart, we make being a member of the Augmenta Community mean something special. This includes the confidence of full support – even to the point of developing a new Augmenta System service, if need be,” said Dimitri.
“It was my first time in Ukraine. What impressed me was the friendliness and openness of all the amazing people we met,” George said.
He also went on to note that farmers are tech-savvy and want to improve the efficiency of agricultural production from their sizable holdings. “This 'breadbasket of Europe' is ideal territory for the Augmenta System and its ability to optimize inputs, reduce waste and promote sustainability - especially because it’s in a way that’s both practical and financially beneficial for the farmer. Judging by the enthusiasm I witnessed with my own eyes, a growing number of Ukrainians obviously realize that,” concluded George.
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