­Living Lettuce, Vertical Gardening: This Startup Is Using AI For Organic Farming

The interest and popularity of organic and sustainable farming are increasing drastically. While the consumers are often sceptical about the food products that they consume, Dubai and New Delhi-based Barton Breeze is growing safe, delicious and healthy food while relying on analytics and AI. It offers top-quality products that are grown locally in nutrient-rich water without pesticides. The crops are harvested weekly and delivered to sales outlets within a couple of hours. 

Following the principle of ‘living lettuce’, it follows a method where roots are left intact, which makes it last longer. The startup also follows vertical gardening where it uses vertically stacked growing beds, up to five levels high using less than 1% of the space required by the conventional growing, a precious commodity in densely populated urban areas.

Analytics India Magazine got in touch with Shivendra Singh, founder and CEO of Barton Breeze, who believes that in the future the vegetable greens will likely come from the building next to you.

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The Journey

After graduating from IIM Ahmedabad, Singh started working on a pilot project around hydroponics and set up two container farms in Dubai. “During this time I thought, a country like India with profound climate changes needs this technology more than anyone else,” he says. 

Soon after, Barton Breeze was established in 2015 in Dubai, UAE, with a mission for technology innovation in agriculture. As Singh recalls, the journey initially was challenging and well expected, but with the right vision, it became unstoppable. In addition to the lack of proper information, availability of funds, market volatility, the task to create consumer confidence was critical. Another challenge was that hydroponics was a new technology to adapt, and the existing unprofessional quality and high prices made it difficult to find the right customer in the market. 

Overcoming these challenges, Barton Breeze is now the market leader in the sector and has expanded operations to India. 

Data Science And AI Is At The Core

Barton Breeze team includes experts from deep data science to engineering, and from marketing to producing. “When we started, people had no idea about this new technology. And whatever talent was available, they had to unlearn. Training and building our staff from the ground up, we are now a team of six core members, supported by 25 field farms,” added Singh. 

Explaining how Barton Breeze uses analytics and AI to increase the farm produce, Singh shares the areas as below: 

  • Smart Farms: Each smart farm is backed with expertise of the chief technology officer, a dedicated R&D team, plant scientists, microbiologists, mechanical engineers, and design engineers.
  • Cloud Architecture and Data Center: Barton Breeze collects hundreds of data points at each of its farms to its data centre, which allows it to quickly alter its indoor precision control for taste, texture, colour, and nutrition. It also helps in adjusting variables like temperature and humidity to optimise its crop yields. Barton also collects all yield and harvest data into the cloud to calculate sales projections and market trends.
  • Using Artificial Intelligence and IoT (Internet of things): Barton uses software with a device clipped on the stems and leaves of each plant. It informs the nutrients or mineral needs of the plants. 

Highlighting other venues where AI is used, Singh shares that they have perfected their algorithm for optimal taste, texture, colour and nutrition so one can taste the science of flavour in every delicious bite of leafy greens. “We do this by leveraging plant science, engineering and lighting to optimise our plants while also using 85% less water, 5x productivity and zero pesticides,” he added. 

He further shares that Barton Breeze carefully monitors the health and quality of plants daily to optimise taste, texture, colour, nutrition, and yield to deliver a better product using AI. “Barton’s growing techniques can be highly customised,” he said. 

The startup has also developed iFarm, a cloud-based data and farm output AI software. It allows the clients to get all their farm and production details on the cloud at home or office. “Our farm dashboard and IoT uses artificial intelligence and data analytics to measure important indicators that help in food/crop planning and hence help connect in the food security ecosystem,” he said. 

Some areas where AI and IoT are used at Barton:

  1. SMS alert system 
  2. Data logging facility
  3. Online monitoring and control
  4. Sensor-based control system
  5. Environment management system
  6. Water temperature management
  7. Sunlight monitoring system
  8. Crop management system
  9. Farm system efficiency dashboard
  10. Nutrition management system

Barton team includes members with deep expertise in science, engineering, technology, food safety, crop physiology, microbiology and more to help deliver rapidly deployable and scalable solutions.

“Being first and one of a kind in the segment of agri-tech, we at Barton Breeze are trying to create and promote healthy lifestyle’ To achieve it, we are working into the whole ecosystem in the form of B-FRESH, B-FARM and B-HOME,” shares Singh. 

Growth Story

With experienced and known names in the team, Barton Breeze has increased team members, post-COVID to increase the outreach. “Currently we are in 10 states, and Barton Breeze is planning to enter five more states in next couple of months,” shared Singh. The startup takes pride in increased customer query by 200% and increased consumer awareness by 10X post COVID. 

Singh further shares that there has been an increase in the interest level from angel investors and venture capitals for Barton Breeze with VC calls gone up by 150%. The startup is closing 1.5 million USD funding within this year. 

“Our goal is to achieve 360-ton produce marketing per year by the end of March 2021 while adding 25 more clients. We are targeting 50 crores revenue @CAGR 800%. We would also be coming up with ten new commercialised farms apart from doing R&D on 50 crop varieties,” concluded Singh on an ambitious note. 

Srishti Deoras
Srishti currently works as Associate Editor at Analytics India Magazine. When not covering the analytics news, editing and writing articles, she could be found reading or capturing thoughts into pictures.

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