Smart Agriculture Solutions
2020-10-16 06:16XAG Recognised for Sustainability Innovation in Tackling Rural Ageing at 2020 Reuters Responsible Business Awards2020-10-16 06:16More >14 October 2020, LONDON – XAG received recognition for its sustainable farming solutions by Reuters Responsible Business Awards 2020, the world’s leading Awards celebrating leadership in sustainable business. The company was named a winner of the Sustainability Innovation category with its unremitting efforts to scale up agricultural drones, robots, Internet-of-things, and artificial intelligence in rural areas of developing countries. As food insecurity is aggravated in the wake of COVID-19, these unmanned technologies have been leveraged to shape the future of smart farms by addressing rural ageing crisis and loss of biodiversity. The 11th Reuters Responsible Business Awards were announced at a virtual ceremony on 8-9 October, recognising those that truly have an impact on business, society, and the environment. For the past 11 years winners of the Awards spanned the globe, covering both industry giants and new tech forces, such as Unilever, IKEA, Intel, Mastercard, Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs, UPS and etc, which developed innovative strategies pushing forward the boundary of corporate responsibility and sustainability.See the full list of award winners here: https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/chipotle-dbs-thai-union-verizon-olam-international-renew-power-and-maersk-among-winners-2020 Sustainably grow more with less This year’s Sustainability Innovation Award, one of the thirteen award categories, was given for agriculture technology company XAG which puts sustainability at the heart of its business strategy. The company is committed to empowering smallholder farmers with smart agtech to grow more nutritious food with less environmental footprint on the planet. This is achieved through the three core pillars of XAG’s smart agriculture solutions that are incomparable in terms of scope, impact, and scalability. • Collaborate with local government to build digital farming infrastructures, such as centimetre-level RTK (real-time kinematic) high accuracy navigation network and high-definition field maps, which enables autonomous operations of drones and robots in rural areas. • Develop precision farming equipment, including drones and unmanned ground vehicles, which are nimble, flexible enough to adapt to farms of different sizes and operate on varied terrains.• Integrate AI cloud computing platform and IoT systems to collect agriculture big data and analyse crop growth cycle, assisting farm owners in making scientific decisions on production. The judges were very impressed by the innovative and scalable actions of XAG to bridge the gap between resources and skills for smallholders and family-run farms. “This is an excellent example of utilising technologies to drive social, environmental impacts which have been demonstrated immediately, particularly in the developing part of this world,” said Aris Vrettos, Director of Centre for Business Transformation, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL).XAG Agricultural UAS flew over Honghe Hani Rice Terrance in ChinaSince the transition from drone maker to agtech innovator in 2013, XAG has managed to introduce over 50,000 unmanned farming devices across 42 countries and regions. A wide range of drone operations involving precision agriculture practices, from sowing seeds and spreading fertilisers to crop spraying and field monitoring, have been delivered to 8.72 million farmers on 40 million hectares of farmlands. The company is helping to efficiently improve crop yield and protect the health and safety of agricultural workers by eliminating the risks of chemical exposure on fields. Besides cutting down carbon emissions in response to climate change, the replacement of diesel tractors and knapsack sprayers with electric-powered drones also reduces the use of pesticides and fertilisers, as well as conserving water resources. Safeguard one of the toughest rice terraces XAG’s agtech scale-up actions were initiated under the challenge that, with less workers to farm and no more arable land to exploit, the global food system will be struggling to feed the world’s whopping 10 billion people by 2050. Small and midsized farms are the major forces of food production in most developing countries; however, they still depend on manpower to grow crops and usually apply an overdose of pesticides due to lack of smart tools. Large ground equipment cannot be adopted in these areas because of the varied terrains, smaller size of land and high cost.Farmers climbed over the sloped rice terraces to manage the crops Honghe Hani Rice Terraces, located in China’s Yunnan Province, is one of the key places for red rice production that responds to both difficulties and opportunities of the high mountainous environment. Listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013, these rice terraces were crafted out of dense forests and have been developed into a complex farming system by the Hani people over the past 1300 years. But now, its agricultural civilisation is under threats of the shrinking and older rural workforce. Since March 2020, XAG has galvanised a team of young professionals to bring its autonomous agricultural drones to cope with the rugged, irregular terrains where the red rice is grown. The rice terraces cascade down the steep slopes of the towering mountains, which at its narrowest point is less than one metre that traditional agricultural machinery was unable to reach. Since more and more youngsters are leaving the villages to seek better jobs in cities, elderly farmers form the backbone of the manual labour to cultivate the rice terraces. Instead of putting people within the fields, XAG deployed its terrain-adaptive drones to release seeds and spray chemicals accurately over the pre-programmed route. This was the first-of-its-kind drone operations of direct rice seeding and spraying in the areas of Honghe Hani Rice terraces, unshackling the Hani people from labour-intensive fieldworks. When it comes to the barriers to scale-up, XAG has been striving to dispel farmers’ suspicions about new technology through continuous training and demonstration. “Our ultimate goal is to create a smart agriculture ecosystem in which all the repetitive, tedious, and dangerous jobs are handed over to drones and robots, therefore farmers can focus on the process of decision making with the aid of big data and AI,” said Justin Gong, Co-founder of XAG. About XAG Founded in 2007, XAG is an agriculture technology company and one of the world’s largest agricultural drone makers. It is devoted to advancing agriculture that can sustainably feed the world’s growing population with positive social impact on earth. XAG’s vision is to build the infrastructure of agriculture for the next 100 years, that will provide the world with sufficient, diversified, and safe food. To grow more nutritious food with minimal ecological footprint on earth, XAG has designed the three-pillar smart agriculture solutions that innovatively integrate drones, unmanned ground vehicles, internet-of-things, and artificial intelligence.
2020-09-24 06:27The Hungry Mars Webinar: Potatoes Would Be the First Dish on Mars?2020-09-24 06:27More >22 September 2020, GUANGZHOU – The first-of-its-kind international webinar on Mars farming was hosted by XAG on 17 September to explore the possibility of growing food on the Red Planet, amid three daring probe missions on their way to Mars. Themed “The Hungry Mars”, this seminar featured plant scientists and agricultural experts from Wageningen University & Research, XAG, ID Capital Pte, and VCearth, diving deep into the solutions of growing crops with Martian soil, as well as developing a closed agricultural ecosystem on Mars through the use of autonomous farming technologies, such as drone, robot, and internet-of-things. The Hungry Mars Webinar panelA New Urgency for Sustainable Development The one-hour webinar opened up with expert views to reveal the hidden reasons behind the Mars farming exploration projects. Justin Gong, Co-founder of XAG, considered the Mars adventure as a strategic vision to solve sustainability issues. To ease the environmental, social tensions here on earth, humans need to have a higher mission, such as aiming eyes for the outer space. “Agriculture is now facing great challenges, such as rural aging population and lack of farming workforce, that would threaten human survival and existence. For example, in China, there are 12 million people moving from rural areas to cities every year, with no inclination to take over the tedious, laborious farm works from their old generations. This means that we need to figure out a solution of sustainably producing more food to feed the growing global population,” he said. “However, climate change, loss of biodiversity, and political uncertainties have been making the scenarios more complicated and multifaceted. If these problems keep exacerbating, it is possible that Earth might one day become as hostile as Mars. We need to take wise precautions early on and harness the power of technology to sustain human life in the future,” Justin Gong added. XAG's fully autonomous drone on crop spraying missionRiding the wave of industry 4.0 to transform the traditional agricultural production system, XAG develops smart agriculture technologies, including autonomous drones, unmanned ground vehicles, and IoT systems, that have been introduced to remote rural areas across 42 countries and regions. Having been tested under extreme conditions, these unmanned devices were specifically designed to operate in various types of complex, tough environments, no matter rugged terrains or waterlogged fields. As XAG is committed to providing the world with sufficient, diversified, and safe food, this mission reflects an ambitious goal that also benefits future Martians. The idea is to verify the flexibility and robustness of unmanned technologies in growing crops under simulated Mars circumstances. Isabelle Decitre, Founder & CEO of ID Capital Pte, has years of experience in agtech and foodtech investment and sees the innovative Mars farming solution as a product of multi-disciplinary fusion. “We could think of Mars as the extreme environment of Earth, which helps us take in new insights and push the limits of inventions to change the future of agriculture on Earth.” Martian Crops for a Self-sustaining Colony The webinar also delved into a mysterious topic for open discussion: Does the “The Martian” method of growing potatoes could work in reality and what are the crop species most likely to thrive on Mars? Dr. Wieger Wamelink, a senior plant ecologist of Wageningen University & Research addressed the questions by proving the feasibility of growing Martian crops, which suggests that the idea of living on Mars might no longer be just a sci-fi dream. Since 2013, Dr. Wamelink has been leading an innovative research project “Food for Mars and Moon” that, for the first time, utilises Mars soil stimulant provided by NASA to cultivate crops. So far, he and his team have made a significant breakthrough in successfully growing and harvesting nine different crop species, including rocket, tomato, radish, rye, peas, and leek, under greenhouse conditions. The simulation soils come from the volcano of Hawaii, whose texture and composition very resemble those of the real nutrient-poor Martian regolith, lacking in reactive nitrogen and containing a high level of heavy metal and perchlorates. It was previously believed that Martian soils were uninhabitable for plant growth.Growing crops with Martian soil stimulants in Wageningen University & Research “Back then, this was an untapped research area that prompted us to make bold innovations. We have conducted comparative experiments with 14 crop species, using Earth river sands as well as Mars and Moon soils stimulants mixed with organic matter as fertiliser. It turned out that the research went far more smoothly than we had expected. Some seeds started to germinate within only 24 hours, then flowered and borne fruits as usual as normal earth crops,” Dr. Wamelink explained. More surprisingly, the vegetables grown from Martian soil stimulants were tested to be safe to eat without traces of metals. He particularly pointed out that potatoes grew very well in the experiments. From the perspective of plant biology, this carbohydrate-rich vegetable is most likely to serve as the first dish if humans set foot on Mars, he added. “Potatoes not only taste good and show many health and nutrition benefits, but also easy to grow and take up less space. Even under greenhouse environment less desirable for plant growth, we could still harvest a batch of potatoes in 10 weeks. On Mars, all the construction works would be extremely costly and difficult, so it means a lot to secure food production if we could grow crops in large quantities with less space.” Unmanned Farming as Key Pathway to Turn Mars Green It is agreed that scarcity of agricultural labour would be a major challenge when it comes to terraforming Mars. This provides opportunities for the existing unmanned farming technologies on Earth to empower Martian farmers and increase food productivity on the Red Planet. According to Justin Gong, developing hands-free farms over the dreadful wildness of Mars first involves the construction of intelligent greenhouse, followed by the supply of fertile soils and water resources, with no exception to run through the entire agricultural production processes from seeding, crop management to harvest. Undoubtedly, this would require a large number of automated equipment. But the problem is that machine cannot be remotely controlled in real-time since it takes more than 20 minutes for radio signals to travel the distance between Earth and Mars. “In this case, we would need agricultural drones and robots that could operate fully autonomously and precisely to spray crops, spread fertilisers, and pollinate the plants. Meanwhile, the IoT and AI systems could collect and analyse multi-dimensional farm data on crop growth, soil condition, and microclimate to identify various problems, assisting future Martians with scientific farming decisions,” Gong said. The introduction of microorganisms and pollinators would also be required to create a sustainable closed-loop agricultural ecosystem on Mars. This is what Dr. Wamelink and his team attempt to investigate in the latest phase of Martian soil experiments, with focus on adding human urine as source of struvite to improve crop yield.XAG Agriculture IoT system operates in the desert area He argued that it was nearly impossible to grow crops on the open surface of Mars, because the atmosphere is too cold and thin to support life, with dangerous cosmic radiation and low gravity. “Crop cultivation could only be carried out in a smart greenhouse. We could consider introducing bumblebee as insect pollinators, while leveraging fungi, bacteria, and worms to decompose organic matters that allow recirculation of nutrients in the Martian soils. Future Martian would play an important role in this cycle where their faeces could be reused to stimulate crop growth,” he said. Dr. Wamelink has confirmed in his previous research that earthworm can survive and even reproduce in the Mars soil stimulants. As a professional venture capitalist, Isabelle Decitre concluded the discussion saying that these Mars farming exploration projects have immeasurable potential that is attracting a considerable amount of private funding. “But this kind of programmes should shoot for government funding, as now many countries are willing to invest lots of money in space research and development. For example, Germany spends billions of Euro every year in this realm.”
2020-09-02 22:20XAG Explained with Economics of Mutuality: How Agtech Drives Post-COVID Business Growth?2020-09-02 22:20More >GUANGZHOU, September 1, 2020 - Co-hosted by Mars Economics of Mutuality (EoM) Foundation and the American Chamber of Commerce in China (AmCham China), the international seminar themed Why Does Purpose as A Strategy Make A Difference in Today’s Post-COVID World was held online on August 27. Leading experts from Mars EoM Foundation, XAG, VISA China, and YouChange China Social Entrepreneur Foundation was brought together with other hundreds of business leaders to discuss how the primacy of purpose could transform business performance across the people, planet, and profit equation. Justin Gong, Co-founder of XAG shared the power of unmanned agriculture technologies as profitable solutions to the relevant social and environmental problems in the global food system. Panelist introductionThis seminar is part of the Mars EoM program series, which aims to explore a more sustainable and inclusive path forward that helps business thrive in the post-COVID era. Based on fifteen years of in-depth academic research and business practice, the Economics of Mutuality is a ground-breaking management innovation that empowers companies to seek a purpose that goes beyond profit maximisation. It was developed within Mars, Incorporated in collaboration with Oxford University and other top academic institutions. Create Purpose-centric Values with Drones and Robots Alan Beebe, the President of AmCham China expressed at the opening remark that the COVID-19 pandemics has introduced unprecedented challenges and opportunities to companies worldwide. There is a new urgency for business to consider how emerging digital technologies can lead to the achievement of the economics of neutrality goals. With the mission of advancing agriculture, XAG is an agriculture technology company which has been putting the EoM values into practice. Unlike many other companies addressing their positive impacts through separate charity or corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, XAG is born with CSR embedded and empowers millennial generation with drones and robots to reshape the agriculture landscape. Experts from AmCham China, Mars EoM Foundation, XAG, VISA China, and YouChange China Social Entrepreneur Foundation“Our business naturally has a purpose, which is based on solving environmental and rural development issues such as the loss of biodiversity and aging farming population. We develop agricultural drones, farming robots, IoT systems, and smart agriculture farm management software to conduct field works as tedious and dangerous as seeding, spraying pesticides, and crop scouting. In this case, the young generation farmers can focus more on managing agricultural inputs and making decisions to optimise the production workflow,” Justin Gong, Co-founder of XAG said. XAG’s smart agriculture solutions can not only help farmers improve productivity through autonomous operations, but also generate higher profits for smallholders and farm owners. Drones and robots are cost-effective, eco-friendly tools of precision agriculture, conserving water and reducing the use of pesticides while closing yield gap to ensure food security. Mutuality as A New Force to Boost Economic Resilience Inclusive collaboration and profit sharing are the key paths forward to promote mutuality business growth. For example, XAG has been working with local government in China to build digital farming infrastructure that paves the way for standardised operations of unmanned agricultural equipment, as well as the hands free farms. XAG XMission Survey drone takes high definition field maps“Just like people in the city have grown accustomed to calling a taxi or ordering a meal with their smartphone, farmers in rural areas can also order drones and robots from their service providers to implement the fieldwork. This is easily achieved by using the lightweight survey drone to take high-definition field maps on the farm. In the meantime, we provide technical training for young generation to help them better adapt to the age of big data,” Justin Gong explained. This shows that XAG is more than designing new tools and products for the company itself, but to create a smart agriculture ecosystem for the whole society that connects farmers, producers, and consumers. XAG Agricultural UAS spread seeds on paddy fields during this spring plantingMutuality as a new form of sustainable, inclusive growth model can be a powerful force to increase business resilience under crisis. This March in China, when the coronavirus outbreak exacerbated rural labour shortages and threatened to disrupt the spring planting season, XAG leveraged its nationwide distribution and service network to successfully seed million hectares of rice fields with drones. “In this critical period, we launched an online program that trained farmers to become drone pilots. And we also worked with the seed company to develop special coatings for rice seeds that could be directly broadcast by our drones,” Gong said. Rice seeds that could be directly broadcast by droneIn this seminar, Bruno Roche, Former Chief Economist, Founder and Executive Director of Economics of Mutuality, Mars Incorporated, concluded that the purpose of business should not remain at pursuing higher financial performance. Instead, businesses should seek to drive holistic value creation for all stakeholders in their respective ecosystem. This is about adopting a responsible and more complete form of capitalism that is fairer and performs better than the purely financial version operating today. So far, the mutuality business model has been soundly verified across different countries and regions. “As companies are being tested by this COVID crisis, they should build bridges, not the walls, to let social, human, natural and shared financial capital to flow, making the world economy more resilient to uncertainties such as climate change and pandemics,” Gong said.