If there are app-based aggregation services like Uber, Ola and UrbanClap for city folks, then why not something for farmers to make their job easy? Agritech startup Krishitantra has ‘uberised’ the soil-testing laboratories network and launched a web-based platform to connect farmers with service providers.

The startup recently developed a soil testing machine in association with the Indian Institute of Rice Research (ICAR-IIRR) that can test a sample in just 30 minutes, allowing farmers and agricultural scientists to work on a crisis management plan to address nutrition deficiencies in the soil.

Marking Vijaya Dasami on Tuesday, the startup launched the Soil Testing-as-a-Service (STAAS) platform allowing farmers and agri-based companies to place orders for soil testing. 

Brajendra, Principal Scientist (Soil Science) at IIRR, says that soil testing is the need of the hour. “It is very important to test the soil to identify its health and address the deficiencies, if any. In the absence of a health check, there is an abuse of fertilisers,” he says.

Brajendra and his team developed a novel soil testing technology that can quickly scan and delivery results within an hour. Krishitantra developed a machine using the technology developed by the IIRR. The machines are being manufactured by HiMedia Laboratories (Bhu-Vision) and marketed by BhoomiSeva. The artificial intelligence-backed machine can look for 12 parameters such as pH value (acidity or alkalinity); electrical conductivity, organic carbon, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, nitrogen and zinc. 

Though there are over 14,000 soil testing laboratories in the country on paper, only 2,000-3,000 labs are functioning. With awareness levels (on the importance of testing the soil health) being very low, farmers generally go with uninformed ways of applying the fertilisers, a good part of it going down the drain.

“At present, the nearest soil testing laboratory is 200 km away, making it inaccessible to several farmers. We would like to bring it down to 20 km so that farmers can send their samples and get the results quickly,” Sandeep Kondaji, Krishitantra Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer executive, told businessline.

The five-year-old Mangalore-based startup raised ₹8 crore from Nab Ventures and Omnivore in seed funding. It designed, developed and managing the digital soil health card infrastructure for the Union Government. “We have onboarded over 30 enterprises such as ITC who will subscribe for the testing services on behalf of the farmers,” he said.

The agritech firm is collecting ₹550 for running the test and another ₹100 for the sample collection.

Farmers can go to the company’s platform and place their requirement (the number of tests) and pay the required amount. “The system will make the requirement visible to various laboratories the same way app-based cab hailing firms such as Uber and Ola scouts for drivers nearby. Those who are willing to take the request will announce their willingness and carry out the task,” he said.