Xarvio launches weed identification app

Xarvio weed identification app, Warren Bills

What if you could just point your phone at a weed and the phone would tell you what you were looking at?

At one time it was a huge breakthrough to be able to take a picture of a weed and send a text message to an agronomist. It still is in fact, but sometimes your favourite agronomist is busy helping some other confused individual. There may be a solution to this problem.

I caught up with Warren Bills, business development officer with Xarvio, at Ag in Motion, to talk about an app that they hope will be the next step in the evolution of crop scouting.

(Xarvio, by the way, transitioned from Bayer to BASF ownership on August 1, as part of the sale of Bayer’s digital assets.)

Bills says the app can be used by students, farmers, agronomists, even gardeners. “This app is available to anyone with a smart phone, and what we have deployed is a technology using photo recognition and artificial intelligence to be able to identify weeds and diseases just by taking a picture”

The first thing that had to happen was that the software had to be developed. Then the database had to be populated with representative images. Once these two things came together the app was launched. Bills says the acceptance has been strong. “We launched this app in Europe last fall and now we are in over 90 countries.” He continues, “We are in developing countries, emerging markets. We are in China, India, South America.”

One of the exciting features about the app is that it is part of a community, and it can learn. As more people use the app, and more pictures are entered into it, the more robust and effective it becomes. It will be able to identify weeds more consistently and send you alerts. Once people are able to input insects and diseases, then hot spots can be identified and suspect areas can be monitored.

Additionally, Bills says, other features can be added in, such as treatment recommendations, and other agronomic tools.  “The pipeline with Xarvio scouting app looks really great. If we can do a better job at product selection and product choice for people that might not understand then that is a win. We have features in the pipeline that include insect counts and insect identification we have nitrogen and nutrient deficiency projects in the pipeline all from a smartphone with a camera.

All in all, it seems exciting advancements are on the horizon.

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Dale Leftwich

Dale Leftwich farmed for over twenty years and throughout that time worked as an agronomist, seed manager and businessman. He has been on the Boards of SaskCanola, Canadian Canola Growers and Farm and Food Care Saskatchewan. He also help develop the documentary License to Farm.

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