Becoming a farmer is high risk, with volatility in weather and soil conditions affecting agricultural crops in the blink of an eye.
The risk, exacerbated by global warming, has been mitigated for Lee Kyung-ju, a former IT office worker turned farmer who has been growing cucumbers using a smart farm system since 2020.
He starts his day by consulting his smartphone application displaying the agricultural weather forecast and the prices of agricultural raw materials.
He then arrives at his 6,000 square meter farm in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province.
Using smart farming software and hardware, Lee controls the temperature, amount of light and humidity in the greenhouse for cucumbers to ensure they have a uniform dark green color and uniform size.
A dynamic monitoring system also calculates energy efficiency, costs and crop growth rates.
“Through the smart farm system, cucumbers’ preferred environment can be adjusted, allowing plants to make their own hormones and enhance natural taste,” he said.
Empowering the farmer with six years of farming experience is the technology capability he adopted from agtech startup Green Labs in 2020.
Smart agriculture appears here as an effective alternative to respond to natural disasters caused by climate change and the shortage of labor in the agricultural sector due to the low birth rate and aging population.
“Our ultimate goal is to make future farming a business category with low barriers to entry and high returns by improving the predictability of farming,” said Shin Sang-hoon, co-founder and CEO of Green Labs, founded in 2017.
Agriculture is a big industry, with a market size exceeding 150 trillion won ($125.1 billion) for the country alone, but attempts at digital transformation in the sector have been fragmented or focused on agriculture. delivery industry, as evidenced by the birth of unicorn startups like Kurly Market and Baedal Minjok.
“I don’t think there has been a single company that has sought to digitize the entire lifecycle of agricultural production and distribution,” he said.
Green Labs’ Farm Morning mobile app has attracted 500,000 users, about a quarter of the country’s 2 million farmers.
Shin, who previously worked for e-book service provider Ridibooks and founded blind dating mobile app Amanda, said his new venture’s business strategy was not that different from those of IT companies. for which he worked.
“It is a knowledge game that attracts the most users. The basic structure is that we provide the necessary solutions for users by using the accumulated data of users,” he said.
For example, its visual recognition system monitors strawberry growth to analyze environmental data that increases crop yield and quality. Data collected from multiple farmers advances its system engine to provide better solutions for other strawberry growers.
It also reduces the workload for farmers to check the growth of their livestock and crops and increases the accuracy of the process, Shin said.
“In the near future, farmers will be able to switch crops, such as strawberries until this month to watermelons next month, by adjusting their smart farming systems,” he said.
By Park Han-na ([email protected])