Fleet Space wins grant for Dutch agtech project

Fleet Space Technologies has been awarded a competitive grant from the Government of the Netherlands to fast-track a program aimed at revolutionising the global agricultural industry through nanosatellite technology.

The grant, awarded by the Netherlands’ Small and Medium Enterprises Innovation (MIT) program, will enable Fleet to conduct a world-first trial to connect data from irrigation systems on the ground to nanosatellites in orbit. The Digital Rain IoT Platform via satellite (DRIPs) proposal, created in partnership with Disdrometrics and FactoryLab, will aim to transform agriculture through real-time tracking of farm assets, creating potential cost savings of 10 per cent or more per year, per hectare of land.

“Using real-time data to drive efficiencies and predict longer-term trends affecting today’s farmers will increase food production in vulnerable agricultural areas globally,” said Flavia Tata Nardini, co-founder and CEO of Fleet Space Technologies.

The pilot forms part of Fleet Space Technologies’ vision to provide global connectivity through a constellation of 100 nanosatellites, transforming industries around the world including farming, mining and logistics.

Fleet Space Technologies’ nanosatellite network holds significant potential to tackle head-on concerns surrounding the resilience of global food production systems amid growing global populations. It is predicted that feeding a world of 9.1 billion people in 2050 would require raising overall food production by 70 per cent.

Through the DRIPs proposal, Fleet and its partners will be able to prevent crop failure of 50 per cent through precision agriculture. The technology will enable farmers to monitor soil moisture and rainfall at micro levels, using real-time data to drive optimal irrigation and fertilisation.

“There is no reliable, low cost, system to remotely monitor and predict conditions that often see our farmers left cropless and bankrupt,” Tata Nardini said.

“A wireless network of irrigation sensors, connected by nanosatellites, will allow for more precise agricultural reporting, monitoring weather, water distribution, land quality and predicting future trends before it’s too late.

“The potential economic advantages for farmers globally, and the food production chain, could be life-changing.”

Fleet Space Technologies will launch the first of more than 100 planned nanosatellites in 2018, creating a free global connectivity network that will plug directly into the millions of digital sensors already beginning to transform industries like agriculture, logistics, and mining and gas.

 

“The vision of FactoryLab has always been to create sustainable solutions and provide low cost connectivity using LoRa,” said Gertjan Strietman, CEO and co-founder of FactoryLab.

 

“DRIPs gives us the perfect opportunity to realize that vision and step into smart agriculture development. We believe LoRa is the future of IoT and combining it with smart sensors and satellite communication is an exciting step forward.”

Matthew Pearson