Plantix: The Crop Doctor on Your Smartphone

With time humans have become more prone to illnesses, and along with this, the medical field has seen a miraculous amount of progress. Fatal diseases are now treatable, and treatable diseases can now be cured!

Throughout this progress and change in the medical field, prevention and a healthy diet are among the few things that have maintained their status, if not increased. The demand and awareness around organic food and vegetables have increased, flourishing the agriculture field along with the businesses related to it.

Though agriculture is seeing flourishment, it requires a lot of attention, especially with the growth of technology, globalisation, and the increase in demand for organic food and raw materials. The traditional way of farming is a road leading to setbacks. Also, new diseases are emerging among plants and require attention, often posing as an issue for farmers, leading to the corruption of crops and causing heavy losses.

Dealing with such problems requires an understanding of the crops, along with the help and support of an expert. However, this is a little difficult as one might not be able to consult the experts directly.

Seeing this as an issue Simone Strey, CEO of Plantix, developed an application that helps farmers diagnose their sick crop and find the right treatment for it, calculates fertilizer demand, connects weather with agricultural practices, teaches about the cultivation of new crops, and much more. Apart from this, the application has a huge network helping farmers all around the world in their farming processes.

We at ‘The Knowledge Review’ had an opportunity to talk with the developer of this amazing app, Simone Strey. Let us see what Simone has to say to the world.

Please walk us through your inception story of the prestigious organization and how the application was brought into existence.

In 2014, my husband, Robert Strey, and I did our PhD research in Matto Grosso and Pará, Brazil. We two geographers took soil samples from farmland and recognized in discussions with the farmers that agricultural advisory was extremely scarce. Despite all necessary information being available on the web, farmers had no chance to find the correct information.

With this problem in mind, we came up with the idea of using computer vision to make the diagnosis and connect farmers with the appropriate information. So, together with five colleagues and friends, we founded Plantix in 2015. The same year, the team could prove the concept of tomatoes with symptoms of different nutrient deficiencies and launched the first version of its free Android app.

Tell us about the organization’s mission, vision, and core values.

The purpose of Plantix is to create radical change in agriculture, enrich farming livelihoods, and feed future generations. Its vision is to lead the digital transformation in agriculture towards environmentally and economically sustainable farming.

The company’s mission is to connect small-scale farmers and suppliers with customized solutions, reliable products, and trusted services in one digital ecosystem.

The company values are FOCUS on what matters, CARE for others and the world around us, and ENABLE with accurate information and transparency that we SHARE. So far, the main country in focus is India, but the app is already popular across the world.

Kindly brief us about yourself and your contribution to the application’s success.

I have lived half the year in Indore and the other half in Berlin. Moreover, I am responsible for fundraising and the prosperity of the company. And I love to travel and spend time with my latest hobby – sailing.

What are the course objectives and expected learning outcomes that the application focuses on for farmers’ future?

With the help of Plantix, farmers would be able to diagnose crop problems, know what different products exist that are suited to treat the problem, and who is selling these products in the near surrounding.

Apart from that, farmers can receive disease alerts, connect weather with agricultural practices, and can learn about the cultivation of new crops. And, of course, there is the Plantix community, a vast network of experts and peers that exchange knowledge and help each other with all kinds of questions and problems.

Plantix and its retailer arm Plantix Partner increase transparency, allow information flows, and enable the agri-input value chain actors to do farming and business in a more sustainable way.

What are the unique courses and academic initiatives introduced in the application to help farmers learn better with machine learning?

What makes Plantix unique is its mix of an easy-to-navigate user interface, cutting-edge technology like AI-backed computer vision and accurate and well-curated information. This mix builds the foundation of trust that is key to any learning experience in agriculture. And the best: it is free.

How do you provide global educational exposure to your app users as part of a system where there are no boundaries?

Plantix automatically detects more than 500 diseases on more than 60 major crops that can cause significant damage and crop loss around the world. It is localized to 18 languages, of which 11 are local Indian languages. Experts are also available in the Plantix community for those languages.

How do you help your app users prepare for their future? What kind of special features/initiatives have you launched for the same?

With Plantix, farmers are able to receive disease alerts and diagnose their crop problems with confidence, so they lose less of their yields. At the same time, Plantix assures that the farmers get the right product, thus the most out of the money spent. In addition, more and more farmers get to know about new, more effective yet less harmful pesticides, the cultivation of new crops, and the best seeds, products, and services available, by which they can be more resilient and improve the way they farm the land.

Please mention your company’s most notable achievements, accolades, and awards.

The latest achievement was becoming the number one app in the category “Education” in India in September 2022. In the same month, Plantix has been downloaded 1.5 million times and continues to be the most downloaded and used the app for farmers in the world.

Plantix has received the CEBIT Innovation Award, the World Summit Award, and the Data-Driven Farming Prize. However, the most valuable prize is the more than 45000 top ratings that the team around Plantix has received so far in the Google Playstore.

How do you envision the future of your prestigious organization going forward?

Bright! So many farmers will get smartphones and mobile internet access in the coming years. Farming has become more challenging due to climate change and invasive species. The need for timely and accurate agricultural advice has ever since existed. Through digital means like the Plantix app, we can deliver this support at scale.

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