Yara’s role in shaping the future of agriculture

The fourth revolution is coming to agriculture. As one of the leading agricultural companies in the world, Yara is not only adapting, but also helping to shape the rapidly changing industry.

Digitalization and sustainability are two very hot topics in today’s agriculture, with digital solutions becoming a bigger part of the industry and allowing for numerous new opportunities. A company that has invested a lot into digital solutions over the past three years is Yara, with one of their most recent examples being the hyper local weather forecast app “FarmWeather”. The NHH-Symposium has spoken to Kerri Pocock (communications manager for Yara Farming Solutions) and Victoria Pace (solutions manager in the Yara Crop and Digital Farming team) for insight into the subject.

– Currently, the company has more than 350 employees solely dedicated to digital farming in areas all across the world, with the intent to maximize resource use efficiency and crop yields, Pocock explains.

She points to sustainability-related government regulations impacting farmers all over the world and Yara taking their responsibility to support these people very seriously, which is why they focus on the digital solutions approach.

Pace goes on to emphasize that the 115 years of knowledge within Yara’s business allows them to create digital tools like “AtFarm”, which helps farmers narrow down and apply the right amount of nitrogen needed to small sections of their field without losing any of it to the environment.

High demand for reliable solutions

Due to climate change, farmers living in Asia and Africa are faced with challenging and unpredictable weather. This is why Yara created “FarmWeather” in cooperation with IBM, an app that provides small holder farmers with hyper local weather conditions.

– As a smallholder farmer you do or die by the weather, and if you apply fertilizer on the wrong day you may be in big trouble. In countries like the Philippines, India and Kenya, the weather news landscape is completely different from what we take for granted in western societies. You can be two hours outside of Nairobi, Kenya, in a completely different eco-system, and still be getting the weather forecasts for the capital, Pace says.

After only a single year on the market, FarmWeather has become the number one weather forecasts app in India with more than 2.9 million users, as well as more than 3.5 million downloads globally. There are currently 12 different languages within the app, and after only two weeks of being released in Guatemala it has reached more than 5000 users. Pace accredits the app’s success to a demanding market and a smart design:

– This illustrates the high demand for reliable digital solutions, especially in less developed countries across the world, which is where the app thrives. Another factor for success is the app’s design. FarmWeather has been tailored to the needs of farmers with older smartphones, being only a bit bigger than one megabyte and made to fit a two by three inch screen.

Kerri Pocock thinks that COVID-19 especially has boosted the importance of digitalization in farming. Photo: Private

Fighting food insecurity 

As a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a big concern that more people have and will be made food insecure. To combat this, Yara is donating 40 000 tons of fertilizer to farmers in East-Africa with their Action Africa initiative, which emphasizes digital solutions and is estimated to feed one million people.

– With Covid-19 putting Yara’s mission of responsibly feeding the world and protecting the planet to risk, the establishment of supply chains between manufacturer and farmer have been greatly sped up.  An agronomic team cannot be sent out to every single one of the more than 500 million farmers in the world, and knowledge through digital solutions have become more important than ever, Pocock explains.

– Till Zhang

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