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IBM Partners With Yara

Yara and IBM Services are joining forces to innovate and commercialize digital agricultural solutions that will help increase global food production. The partnership draws on the two companies’ strengths – Yara’s agronomic knowledge, which is backed by more than 800 agronomists and a century of experience, and IBM’s digital platforms, services, and expertise in artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics.

“Our collaboration centers around a common goal: to make a real difference in agriculture. To be able to responsibly feed a growing population, it is critical that farmers increase food production on existing farmland to avoid deforestation. Yara and IBM will develop digital solutions that empower professional and smallholder farmers to optimize farming practices to increase yields, crop quality, and incomes in a sustainable way,” says Terje Knutsen, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Yara. 

The partnership will focus on all aspects of farm optimization and apply AI, machine learning, and in-field data to unlock new insights for farmers. One specific area of collaboration will be weather data. By merging analytical insights from IBM’s Watson Studio, IBM PAIRS technology, The Weather Company, and other services, with Yara’s crop knowledge and modeling capabilities, the joint platform will not only provide hyperlocal weather forecasts but also provide real-time actionable recommendations tailored to the specific needs of individual fields/crops. 

“As demand for food rises along with the world’s population, the digital farming platform will play a key role in increasing global farming yields in a sustainable way. The collaboration is a perfect symbiosis of IBM’s capabilities in AI, big data management, and blockchain technology, and Yara’s agronomic knowledge, farmer-centric digital innovation, and proven track record in improving farming across the globe,” says Luq Niazi, IBM global managing director, consumer industries. 

At first, Yara and IBM will establish joint innovation teams to collaborate at digital hubs in Europe, Singapore, the U.S., and Brazil. They will work closely with IBM researchers to develop new capabilities, such as visual analytics and machine learning techniques for crop insights. 

As the platform expands, the teams will explore innovative business solutions to integrate the platform into the IBM Food Trust, IBM’s blockchain-enabled network of food chain players. This will allow for greater traceability and supply chain efficiency as well as ways to tackle food fraud, food waste, and sustainability. 

The first services in the platform will be introduced by the end of 2019. The goal is to reach 100 million hectares (approximately 247,105,381 acres) of farmland, which is nearly 7% of all arable land worldwide including millions of smallholder farms. 

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