An industrial group looking to either domestically buy or import coconut oil wanted to know from where it could source the edible oil. In particular, the group wanted to know the situation in countries such as Sri Lanka and Myanmar besides India itself before it could make a decision.

This is where Satyukt Analytics, an agritech company that leverages the potential of satellite data, came up with digital farming solutions. “Without visiting any of these areas, we were able to assess the coconut trees in these areas and how much oil can be sourced. Then, Saudi Arabia wanted to figure out the challenges for crops and how much yield could be derived. We came forward to provide details without cutting the crop, how to improve the crop’s yield and what will be the productivity at harvest,” said Sat Kumar Tomar. Founder and CEO of Satyukt Analytics.   

On-farm solutions

Launched in July 2018, the Bengaluru-based agtech company leverages the potential of satellite data for digital farm solutions and has an app Sat2Farm both in mobile and web formats. Apart from the above two incidents, Satyukt Analytics has done similar trials for paddy and maize using Software as a Service (SaaS). 

The company finds solutions for farmers on farms, he said. One example is how Satyukt Analytics found out that a farm was suffering from nitrogen shortage and not from termites. “One of my relatives in Bijnor, western Uttar Pradesh, approached me saying his crop looked yellow and everyone was terming it as a termite attack. I asked him for all the information and asked him to geotag his farm. “Once it was done, I asked him to wait for half an hour and asked my team to look into the issue. I then called him to say that he was applying less nitrogen and there was no termite issue,” said Tomar, who hails from a farming family. 

Firm’s objective

Satyukt Analytics was launched with the objective of using satellite remote sensing data to help farmers make an optimal decision. “I have seen people use lots of water when there is plenty of it available and apply a lot of urea, not other nutrients. So how do you use the optimal quantity of something? The idea struck me when I was doing my PhD in satellite remote sensing and that’s how we started,” he said.  

The company took time to develop its product and the Covid pandemic came as a hurdle. “So, we started testing the product in the last, maybe, about two years,” said Tomar.

Satyukt Analytics works in most of the States and also with agri input and output companies, non-governmental organisations, government departments and village-level entrepreneurs. 

Odisha project

The agtech start-up has worked with the Odisha government on the Odisha Integrated Irrigation Project for Climate Resilient Agriculture (OIIPCRA). The State has thousands of tanks. The company used satellite data to find out how the tanks were in the 10 years prior to the project being implemented and how things had changed after OIIPCRA was launched. “We were able to figure out where significant improvement took place and where nothing happened. We were able to provide a report to the Odisha government,” he said. 

“We have about 250 channel partners and through them, we are serving over 50,000 farmers. We have transformed over 1.25 lakh acres spread across 70 crops,” Tomar said, adding that the crops include wheat, paddy, soyabean, cotton, vegetables and sugarcane. 

Using AI, ML

Though the company largely taps into satellite data, it does weather forecasts too using images uploaded by farmers. “The agtech start-up uses artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML). The satellite provides raw data. When we work with farmers, we need to process the data and provide information. We have developed an ML algorithm which will help farmers if there is any issue with his farm,” he said.

The data has helped the company to figure out how a farmer typically applies twice the amount of urea than necessary, while not providing other nutrients to the crop. “We tell the farmer what he should use, which usage should be cut and such things,” Tomar said. 

Farmers are taken on board by the company through the channel partners. They are told that they might be using a third party app, the start-up will provide the crop advisory information every day. “We tell farmers largely about three things — when to apply water and how much, how much nutrient to apply and how much pesticide to spray,” the company’s founder said, adding that no product or company is promoted through its services. 

Credit reports

“We just tell them what is the problem with the plant and what they should do,” he said, adding that growers are charged ₹100 per acre per month.

Satyukt Analytics, which has 60 employees on its register, does micro and macro work with regard to farmers. The micro work is with farmers on things such as crop advisory and the macro is with the banking, financial, agri input and output firms and insurance sectors. 

“On a large scale, we do credit reports. Like if a farmer needs a loan, there is no proper data like monthly salaries that private and public employees draw. So, we look at satellite data and say what kind of crops the farmers were growing in the past 2-3 years and the risks of pests, disease, drought and floods. We summarise these and present a report,” Tomar said. 

Water resources work

Once the farmers avail of the loan, the agtech firm monitors their farm. “The other thing we are focusing on is the carbon credit part. Now, a farmer can sell carbon credit. So, we look at all the activities that impact carbon. So, we tell farmers that they are doing this or that and can get so much credit and what they need to do to improve,” he said. 

Satyukt Analytics is active in Africa and Latin America, where it replicates its Indian experience, though for different crops and larger areas. Its Sat2Farm provides information in 70 languages, including for its foreign clients.  

The start-up uses satellite data for assessing water resources, particularly for States to find out which regions are dry or flooded. For example, three years ago when Maharashtra’s Satara district was flooded, it was able to pinpoint that the reason was due to encroachment of riverbeds.