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AgriTech for a Sustainable Agriculture Value Chain

NEC shares how CropScope innovates
agricultural operations with AI and data analytics

In line with population and economic growth, the production of agricultural crops is expected to continue expanding. To maintain this development sustainably, we need to address a variety of issues, such as responding to a decline in producers and reducing environmental impact.

We work towards resolving these with CropScope, an AI-enabled agricultural ICT platform that visualizes crop growth and soil conditions based on sensor data and satellite images, and provides recommendations to farming management services.

Currently, NEC provides this solution mainly to processing companies which manage and operate large-scale crop fields. This helps us solve their challenges at both the crop production and the processing factory, from crop growing to harvesting.

Planting our roots in smart agriculture

Our client first reached out to us in 2015, with the aim of realizing environmentally friendly and highly profitable farming. Through years of technological development and AI verification of farming advice, we have been able to conduct demonstration tests on tomato production, in countries like Portugal, Spain, Australia, and the United States.

This confidence in CropScope’s scalability and versatility moved us towards a stronger partnership with the establishment of the Smart Agri Division under our client’s direct management in 2020. This collaboration with our client has allowed us to harness CropScope’s capabilities, not only to improve the functions and quality of farming advice, but also study the marketing and future potential of farming support in the tomato production industry.

With the growing demand for such technologies as smart agriculture expands, the Smart Agri Division has mushroomed into a joint venture in 2022, further accelerating our technological development and strengthening sales services in the farming support business.

Delivering impact across the value chain

CropScope provides all the necessary functions for farming in one service, so data is not separated into different places. A variety of data can be aggregated into one service and linked with each field information for management. Users can keep track of field-specific information without using multiple devices, and share work records and insights among stakeholders by instantly linking them to each field. Furthermore, the accumulated farming data will be used to provide functions such as farming recommendations and automatic irrigation control.

Across the entire production process, CropScope adds value to each user.

  1. Farmers
    - AI powered by the knowledge of skilled workers enables environmentally friendly and profitable farming. It also facilitates technology succession and helps to increase the number of new farmers.
    - Machine learning makes it possible to quickly notice irregularities, and to reduce the cultivation risk through visualizing the situation of a large field.
  2. Skilled farming instructors
    - The use of formalized agricultural support know-how can reduce the time required to guide producers and train farming instructors.
    - Even in large fields, instructors can accurately identify the areas where irregularities are occurring and provide guidance based on accurate data.
  3. Crop processing companies
    - Reducing procurement risk and minimizing resource input allows for more stable procurement, with reduced costs and wastage.
    - Objective data sources help to drive optimal total harvest adjustment, which improves overall productivity.

Ensuring our platform stays up-to-date

At NEC, our vision has been to "Innovate global agriculture with DX solutions". We hope to enter an age in which everyone around the world can conduct agriculture accurately and efficiently. This is achieved by establishing new agriculture that is adaptable to climate change, sustainable, low input, high output and more productive.

As we expose CropScope to more use cases, the team has also made improvements to the platform to ensure we keep up with user needs and ever-changing agricultural patterns. Conducting demonstration tests in a variety of environments has enabled the platform to gain important knowledge on soils, crop breeds, and irrigation facilities. This makes it more versatile across a variety of markets, across the globe.

  • Conducted experimental studies in Australia and Portugal
  • Results showed 1.3times better yield by area average
  • Reduced 20% nitrogen use compared to average farmer

Based on the feedback of large-scale users of CropScope globally, NEC has improved the usability of applications by enhancing the ability to identify field abnormalities, such as changes in the soil and water content, the ability to determine farming priorities for individual fields, expressing data in a simple manner, and the ability to analyze accumulated data between fields in order to improve farming methods.

Shaping the future of global agriculture

Currently we have operations in 11 countries, supporting at least 14 popular agricultural crops with CropScope, with tomatoes at the forefront. Our Executive Vice President and CFO Osamu Fujikawa affirms our commitment to sustainable agriculture, "Going forward, NEC will work with our partner in the joint venture to provide direct value to society through NEC technologies that contribute to food production and agriculture worldwide."

CropScope case study video

December 7, 2023