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Transforming Agriculture Through Data Analytics

By Javier Valdés - Syngenta
CEO for Mexico and North LATAM


By Javier Valdés | Director General - Tue, 10/03/2023 - 13:00

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Data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) are not only changing the world but challenging it constantly. For instance, according to Tooltester, ChatGPT gained 1 million users in the first week after launch and receives an estimated 1.6 billion monthly website visitors, with an estimated 100 million active users. Furthermore, it contains more than 570 gigabytes of text data. Both are influencing industries, economy, and the consumer. In fact, according to Forbes Advisor, 64% of businesses believe that artificial intelligence will help increase their overall productivity and, in the end, transform business operations. 

Agriculture is no exception. In a world where a growing population demands more food and seeks transparency and traceability regarding the way in which it is produced and where our industry is at the forefront of dealing with climate change, data and technological infrastructure become fundamental enablers. 

As a company that places the producer at the very heart of its operations and focuses on providing innovative and technological solutions to pioneer the transformation of agriculture and safe and secure food production, we are working on deepening our understanding of the weather, soil, and biodiversity, among others, to leverage that data, information, and insights for the grower’s benefit.   

Conscious of the growers’ need for powerful and precise data to achieve sustainable production, our soil health programs go beyond promoting regenerative agriculture practices. They take a comprehensive approach to productive farms, assessing more than 50 parameters related to crop cultivation, biodiversity and climate impact to provide the scientific basis for designing and implementing scalable agronomic protocols and to support efficient food production within healthy agroecosystems. Earliest results confirm an increase in organic matter, organic carbon, PH and electrical conductivity that improve the absorption of nutrients.

Understanding the need to measure biodiversity, we focus on the efficacy of achieving the targeted biodiversity and natural capital benefits, but also socio-economic benefits, such as yields. Data obtained through the Operation Pollinator project, which is present in more than 50 countries and seeks to boost the number of pollinating insects on commercial farms with the introduction of multifunctional field margins, shows that we have been able to increase biodiversity by 32%, while benefiting more than 5 million hectares of farmland globally. 

Furthermore, as an innovation-driven company, we rely on a team composed of more than 6,000 scientists who investigate more than 100,000 chemical compounds each year and dedicate around 10 years of research and hundreds of molecules studied to offer the market a solid portfolio of science-based products with lower chemical loads and safer toxicological bands. 

It is important to reflect on the fact that technology has been present in agriculture for decades. The tomatoes, carrots, bananas, or strawberries that we can find on supermarket racks have been brought to life by investing a comparable and occasionally larger amount of technology that a smartphone has. Therefore, these current versions are not the same ones our ancestors knew and used to grow. However, in times of high uncertainty for the food production industry and for the growers, we need to use all the tools that we have at our disposal to fulfill our mission and help farmers improve their yields and increase their profitability.

In this task, digital technologies are playing an increasingly relevant role and are supporting our strategy. Today, it is enough to have a smartphone and internet access to connect with each plot and even with thousands of fields around the world. This allows us to monitor and manage crop conditions and, in the end, make informed, precise, and data-driven decisions in real time. 

To take advantage of the digital era by turning data into meaningful information to run more sustainable, productive, and cost-efficient operations while protecting our natural resources, we developed Cropwise, our digital universe that brings the best solutions together to connect agronomic data in a single environment. 

The platform offers a wide variety of digital solutions that are easy to access and that are user friendly. It enables us to reach a vast majority of growers and to help them with specific needs at a farm level, providing a real value and quality over quantity. As I like to refer to it, Cropwise is our one-stop shop that growers can use to monitor, protect, and improve soil health and biodiversity, and to increase the sustainability, quality, and productivity of their crops. As a result, by the end of 2022, Syngenta Group had over 210 million acres digitally connected to its tools and is available in more than 20 countries on all continents. 

Data generation and technology promote optimization and profitability, but also help us to understand the ecosystem and to reduce environmental impact by enabling efficiency. And, above all, they enable farmers to produce more and better food, to meet today's demand with higher quality products. At Syngenta, we are focused on cultivating a data-first organization that leverages it to address the challenges of the agri-food industry, while tackling climate change goals and making information available to all our growers. We manage data and technology like a product to measure our progress while we meet our consumers’ needs, to design a comprehensive offer of technological solutions and to develop data-ecosystems that create valuable insights for all. 

Innovation is integrated into every feature of agriculture and in every pillar of our strategy, from data collection to agronomic decision-making. We are at the forefront of using and sharing data to help our growers produce better, and we are contributing to tackling the regional challenges and to strengthening North Latin America as a food production world leader.

Photo by:   Javier Valdés

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