Kostenlos abonnieren

Werden Sie regelmäßig per E-Mail über neue Ausgaben der campuls informiert. Sie können Ihr kostenloses Abo jederzeit einfach online über den Abmeldelink im Newsletter kündigen.

Weitere Infos zu Datenschutz & Widerrufsrecht finden Sie hier.

#kickstart2024 – Introducing: Mobile measurement test station for analyzing soil moisture

With KICKSTART, Hof University of Applied Sciences has launched a funding program that starts at a very early stage of a potential start-up – with ideas or prototype development. The KICKSTART teams have six months to develop their idea into an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) or prototype. Today’s founding team wants to develop a mobile measuring test station for analyzing soil moisture – using small farms as an example.

The team (from left): Pavel Timofeev, Prof. Günter Müller-Czygan, Viktoriya Tarasyuk, PhD and Harikrishnan Thanipparambu Narayanan Kutty (missing in the picture: Andreas Aicher); Image: Hof University of Applied Sciences;

The mission

The long-term goal of the foundation is to use state-of-the-art digitalization technologies to develop a mobile measurement test station that helps small farms obtain better data on the water balance in their soils – and thus optimize their farming methods! Increasingly, institutions such as the Bavarian Ministry of the Environment are offering publicly accessible soil data via internet databases. These data are a good guide, but do not provide exact individual information about the local soil, but represent averaged values from large-scale analyses. In view of the increasingly strong local differences in the effects of extreme weather events, farmers in particular need reliable data from their land in order to be able to carry out the right soil management depending on the weather situation. With the developed prototype of a mobile measurement test station, the researchers intend to found a company that will bring this technology to the market and make it accessible to farmers.

Harikrishnan Thanipparambu Narayanan Kutty taking measurements in the field; Image: Hof University of Applied Sciences;

How did you come up with this idea?

“Our founding team consists of experts in the fields of water infrastructure and digitalization. The idea for our start-up came about when a farmer approached us in early 2023 with the problem of insufficient soil moisture and the need for automatic irrigation systems. We realized that farmers urgently needed reliable, cost-effective and flexible solutions to optimize their farming methods and respond to extreme weather conditions. Stationary measuring systems are too expensive and inflexible for this. That is why we developed the idea of a mobile test station that meets the requirements and is cost-effective at the same time. The mobile measurement test station should enable farmers to find the optimum location for sensors and thus obtain precise data on soil moisture. This is how the idea of a LoRaWAN-based mobile test station for the KICKSTART program was launched.”

Analysis on the computer: Pavel Timofeev and Harikrishnan Thanipparambu Narayanan Kutty (right): Image: Hof University of Applied Sciences;

Where do you get your motivation from?

“Our motivation for founding this start-up is based on the high water consumption in agriculture. A small optimization can lead to significant savings and our mobile measurement test station is designed to help farmers make their farming practices more efficient and save water. Farmers urgently need reliable, cost-effective and flexible solutions to respond to extreme weather conditions and optimize their farming practices. The KICKSTART funding has enabled us to build a much-needed prototype for the field and help farmers to better manage their fields while saving valuable water resources.”

How are you using the funding specifically?

“The funding received will be used for the development and market launch of our prototype, including the purchase of sensors, power generators, data collection and transmission devices. Another part of the funding will be used to purchase additional equipment for field work and for the safe transportation of the measuring devices. The assembly and system testing will be carried out on the project’s own initiative. The original plan was to use an existing online platform for data collection, storage, analysis and visualization, but now the opportunity has arisen to develop our own online data platform.”

At the end of the six months, do you already know what you want to do next? What are your long-term goals? Are you aiming to set up a company?

“Thanks to the support from KICKSTART, we have recognized how we can further develop and scale our startup. Our long-term goals include commercializing our mobile measurement test station and founding a company that makes this technology available to farmers. Our business idea is to collect soil data from agricultural land, link it to local weather data and use a machine learning model to provide recommendations for better soil water management. This model will suggest the best ways to improve soil water management based on the data analysis. We would like to offer this service to farmers so that they can optimize their cultivation methods and thus improve crop yields and resource efficiency. If there is enough interest from farmers, we will set up a company to offer these services directly.”

What have you learned from the project so far? What would you like to pass on to other people interested in setting up a business?

“The transition from scientific ideas to entrepreneurial initiatives is crucial for the realization of innovative solutions. It is not only important that the application relevance is high, but that there is also sufficient acceptance. This is the only way to turn an idea into a good business opportunity. This requires an early dialog with potential users. In our case, we were approached by a potential user. We recommend that students and young scientists take advantage of this KICKSTART program for good ideas with high application potential.”

Further information on the KICKSTART project can be found here…

Camilla Lenz

Weitere Themen