As the world’s population inches towards its estimated 10 billion people by 2050, finding more, not to mention more sustainable, ways to feed people becomes more and more important. High-tech, indoor agriculture is one solution getting a lot of attention lately, and recently, a new company joined the fast-growing sector. Sensei Ag is the brainchild of Oracle’s Larry Ellison and scientist Dr. David Agus, and the company’s goal is to grow more greens using hydroponics and AI.
Based on the small Hawaiian island of Lāna’i, Sensei Ag has built a 100,000 sq. ft. hydroponic pilot greenhouse that is expected to grow 1 million pounds of food per year. I spoke with Sensei Ag CEO Sonia Lo by phone this week, and she described the company as an integrated solution to indoor farming that uses the best practices in computer vision, germination, and seeding to optimize indoor growing.
I asked Lo about how the company incorporates AI into their greenhouses. She said that their AI platform will act as a data engine that harnesses global grower knowledge, and will create an algorithm for the best-practices in indoor growing. She did not go into the specifics of their platform, but did mention that this would be made available to other growers, and it would be embedded into each part of their agricultural system. Sensei Ag also uses advanced cameras within their greenhouses to identify pests, pathogens, plant health, and uneven growth in crops. The company’s goal is to enable platforms within the greenhouse to make decisions on growing food autonomous of human intervention.
The COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and a growing population has forced us to consider the possibility of global food insecurity. In response, companies like Phytoponics, Element Farms, and Gotham Greens all operate indoor farms that use hydroponic techniques to grow leafy greens. Meanwhile, companies like Verdeat, Rise Gardens, and Seedo offer at-home vertical farming products that allow you to grow leafy greens in your living room.
Sensei Ag grows cherry tomatoes, basil, and butter lettuce, and Lo said that they will definitely be expanding the crops they grow. They are currently scouting for a location in California or Nevada for their flagship farm, which will be used as a template for rolling out future farms.