Case Study: How Yara International is Leveraging AI for Sustainable Growth

Background

Yara International, founded in 1905 to combat the impending famine in Europe, has steadily grown into the industry’s only global crop nutrition company. With operations in over 60 countries and approximately 17,000 employees, Yara has achieved a prominent stature in its field. Their vision prioritizes a world without hunger, emphasizing a sustainable value growth strategy that promotes climate-friendly crop nutrition and zero-emission energy solutions. The company reported revenues of USD 24.1 billion in 2022. Furthermore, Yara is progressively integrating digital tools in its operations, with a keen emphasis on AI, to enhance precision farming and create a sustainable food value chain.

Key Takeaways

  • Yara is actively investing in AI-driven companies like Intelecy and Ecorobotix to bolster their AI capabilities.
  • The company’s digital tools focus on optimization in crop nutrition, enhancing productivity, crop quality, and overall sustainability.
  • Through AI, Yara has been able to refine the agricultural process, offering solutions throughout the Plan, Apply, Adjust, and Monitor phases.
  • Partnerships with AI-centric firms reflect Yara’s commitment to advancing sustainability in agriculture.

Deep Dive

Approach

Yara’s foray into AI showcases a strategic approach to enhance sustainability in agriculture. This is evident in their investment in Intelecy, a company offering AI solutions for production and process optimization, and Ecorobotix, which focuses on high-precision application of crop inputs. By harnessing the power of AI, Yara intends to optimize processes, thereby reducing waste, emissions, energy consumption, and costs. The company has recognized the potential of AI not just as a tool for optimization but as a pivotal asset in its mission to foster a sustainable agricultural landscape.

Implementation

At the core of Yara’s digital transition is the seamless integration of advanced technologies and agronomic expertise to address the multifaceted challenges faced by farmers. First and foremost, they introduced Atfarm, a digital solution tailored for each phase of the agricultural cycle: Plan, Apply, Adjust, and Monitor. Within this system, the Variable Rate Application (VRA) emerged as a standout feature. Depending on the farmer’s preference or available tools, VRA could utilize satellite imaging or in-field hardware such as the N-Sensor. These tools, when combined with Yara’s embedded agronomic knowledge, enabled the creation of precise application maps, adjusting fertilizer application to the specific needs of different parts of a field.

Furthermore, Yara implemented real-time nitrogen sensors and the N-Tester, a handheld device, to facilitate in-season, in-field measurements of crop nitrogen content. Such tools are vital for achieving optimized yield, crop quality, and sustainability, by ensuring accurate nutrient application. In addition to these hardware solutions, Yara also integrated advanced data science, analytics, and AI-driven techniques to model crop and soil dynamics, ensuring farmers can respond rapidly to evolving field conditions. The overarching goal was to combine these digital tools with Yara’s extensive knowledge to create a streamlined, efficient, and sustainable farming experience.

Results

Through their investments and AI initiatives, Yara has further solidified its position as a leader in sustainable agriculture. Intelecy’s platform has potential benefits of reduced waste, emissions, and energy consumption. Meanwhile, Ecorobotix’s ARA system can reduce herbicide use by a staggering 70-95%, offering both environmental benefits and cost savings. These advancements resonate with Yara’s vision, making industrial production more sustainable, optimizing production, and minimizing environmental impacts.

Challenges and Barriers

While AI offers immense potential, the adoption of such technology isn’t without challenges. Industry leaders, including those in the agricultural sector, often highlight the lack of talent as a critical barrier. Many AI projects fail because of this skills gap, which is why companies like Intelecy are invaluable as they bridge this gap by enabling the existing workforce to harness the capabilities of AI.

Future Outlook

Given Yara’s strategic investments and emphasis on AI-driven solutions, the company appears poised to lead the next wave of innovation in sustainable agriculture. Their dedication to developing digital farming tools, combined with their partnerships with emerging AI leaders, sets the stage for a future where AI and advanced analytics play a central role in food production, ensuring sustainability, efficiency, and reduced environmental impact.

Sources:
Yara Makes Strategic Investment in Industrial AI Company Intelecy
Yara Growth Ventures invests in Ecorobotix – a leader in high-precision application of crop inputs
Our digital farming solutions


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