Cargill has launched a new digital platform for aquaculture, the second platform in a suite of digital tools announced in October.
iQuatic, Cargill’s digital platform for the aquaculture industry, is available to Cargill customers and for purchase as a standalone product.
The first element of the platform is iQShrimp, which analyzes data about shrimp size, water quality, feeding patterns, and health and weather conditions to help farmers make decisions and optimize their practices. With the right sensors, the predictive software can give farmers real-time visibility into their farm operations.
The platform does not come with a suite of sensors; rather, it can connect with any cloud-connected device or sensor such as an intelligent feeder or weather station, keep all the data in one interface, and use machine learning and data analytics to provide new insights.
Neil Wendover, Cargill’s digital insights product line director for aquaculture said that this flexibility allows customers to use the software without a major upfront investment of capital.
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iQShrimp was developed through partnerships with major shrimp farms in five countries, including Naturisa, with which Cargill also built a $30 million shrimp feed facility in Guayaquil, Ecuador in 2015.
Apart from Naturisa, most shrimp farms have adopted minimal technology and so the platform needed to be simple yet impactful, said Wendover.
“Some farms are more advanced than others, but in general the shrimp industry is still early in its tech evolution. While there are quite a number of sensors out there and many are cloud-based, many farms are not tech-enabled and internet is a challenge,” said Wendover, who emphasized that digitizing a notoriously risky industry could make a significant difference.
“Shrimp farming historically has inherent weather and disease risks and we feel that using digitization and analytics in this way, in the long-run, will make it a more sustainable and less risky venture,” he continued.
Scott Ainslie, executive leadership for Cargill animal nutrition’s digital and software businesses added that “to the extent that iQuatic helps shrimp farmers to reduce the amount of excess feed put into the pond, we’re improving water quality and having an impact and sustainability.”
Cargill released the first of a suite of digital tools across its animal nutrition business — Dairy Enteligen — in October and is set to announce at least three more in the first half of 2018.
Animal nutrition is just one of Cargill’s five enterprises; the company at-large plans to roll out similar digital technologies across all five, including the grain origination business and food ingredients, SriRaj Kantamneni, managing director of Cargill’s Digital Insights department told AgFunderNews in October.
Dairy Enteligen is also a record-keeping farm management tool to help dairy farmers move away from notepads and excel sheets to record information about their herd and performance. Further capabilities such as sensor integration in the vein of iQuatic are in the pipeline as well.
“Cargill will continue to aggressively grow its capability in the technology, digital and analytics space to help farmers make quicker, faster decisions that directly impact their productivity and profitability,” said Kantamneni, who explained that the company is focusing on building internal capacity rather than acquiring digital products, as John Deere, Monsanto, and DowDupont have done in recent years.
Cargill is considering acquiring relevant businesses though, particularly on the sensing side, according to Kantamneni.
Ainslie said that Cargill’s animal nutrition group is also looking to make equity investments in aquaculture startups — the company is already an investor in aquaculture feed startup Calysta.