There are plenty of reasons food producers are considering indoor agriculture these days, including the potential for better crops and yields thanks to tech integrations and the ability to keep farm workers safer (ie, not laboring in the thick of wildfire smoke). However, to make indoor farming as efficient as possible, and thereby cut down on food waste, more precision around plant nutrients, water, and other elements is needed.
Denmark-based startup Nordetect is one such company tackling this challenge. The precision-agriculture-focused company just nabbed the top spot (and €10,000) of agtech company Priva’s recent Horti Heroes challenge, which showcased companies innovating in the horticulture space.
Nordetect, which is also a part of the SOSV portfolio, won the challenge for its portable device that measures nutrients in soil, water, and plant tissue so growers can more precisely use fertilizer in crops and get better yields and less waste.
On its website, Nordetect says this nanosensor can be used on anything from leaf samples to soil to manure. The system also integrates with any existing software the farm might be using, and a built in GPS keeps track of where each sample is located in the field or farm. A major differentiator Nordetect offers is its ability to measure nutrients within minutes, as opposed to the traditional process that can take weeks.
Speaking in today’s press release, Nordetect CEO Keenan Pinto said the company’s target market was high-value crop space — that is, areas that grow crops like leafy greens, tomatoes, and cucumbers. “These are crops that have a nutrient requirement change between their vegetative and generative phases… and if you can get the fertilization correct, you can also achieve a significantly higher flower rate and yield,“ he said.
Many indoor farms, whether tech-enabled greenhouses or vertical farms, now grow those crops. At the same time, the number of these indoor farming facilities keeps rising and their locations include everywhere from isolated warehouses to grocery store parking lots to food desserts.
Priva is something of a heavyweight in the world of indoor farming, which means its awarding of the prize to Nordetect and subsequent partnership with the company will lead to further technological innovation around precision agriculture inside the above farming locations.