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Syngenta Introduces First Commercial Digital Tool for Detecting Harmful Nematodes

Plant-parasitic nematodes are tiny parasites that feed on plant roots and live in the soil. By facilitating the spread of fungi, they put plant health, crop quality, and yield at risk. Around the world, these harmful nematodes result in crop losses of up to USD 150 billion annually.

Shivam Dwivedi
Jeff Rowe, President Global Crop Protection, Syngenta
Jeff Rowe, President Global Crop Protection, Syngenta

Nematodes that feed on plant roots can cause significant crop damage, costing billions of dollars. Syngenta Crop Protection, a global leader in agricultural innovation, launched the world's first commercial digital solution to diagnose plant-parasitic nematode infestations in soybean crops by analysing satellite photographs.

This represents a breakthrough in the management of this devastating pest and is the result of Syngenta's commitment to providing farmers around the world with an expanding portfolio of digital and precision agriculture solutions.

Plant-parasitic nematodes are microscopic parasites that live in the soil and feed on plant roots, allowing fungal infections to spread and endangering plant health, crop quality, and yield. Each year, these harmful nematodes cause up to USD 150 billion in crop losses worldwide.

The new digital tool analyses satellite images of fields using a proprietary algorithm, allowing it to identify areas of high infestations of plant-parasitic nematodes in crops and estimate potential losses caused by these microscopic parasites. Farmers can use the tool to make quick adjustments to their field management practises, allowing them to avoid yield losses while also optimising input use and improving farm sustainability.

Syngenta will initially target soybean farmers in Brazil, where the company already provides a wide range of advanced digital solutions. Soybean is one of the world's most important crops due to its critical role in food production, and Brazil accounts for roughly 35% of global soybean production. Plant-parasitic nematodes are estimated to cost more than USD 5.4 billion in soybean production losses in Brazil each year. So far, the threat posed by harmful nematodes has been largely invisible and underappreciated, with estimates claiming that farmers in heavily infested areas lose up to 30% of their yield.

"Harmful nematodes that devastate crops are a major threat to farmers and food security, and Syngenta is combating these pests with cutting-edge digital solutions," said Jeff Rowe, President Global Crop Protection. "We are excited to launch this product in Brazil, and there is significant potential to scale this solution to other countries and crops, transforming growers' decision-making capabilities."

This groundbreaking innovation is the result of a multi-year collaboration with Swiss-based AgTech startup Gamaya SA, a spin-off from Switzerland's Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, which combined its highly specialised expertise in algorithm development with Syngenta's agronomic and crop knowledge. Syngenta is integrating this advanced digital solution into its CROPWISETM digital technology platform.

"At Syngenta, we will continue to invest in machine learning and data science to develop additional breakthrough offers for farmers," said Feroz Sheikh, Syngenta Group's Chief Information and Digital Officer. "The technology is an excellent addition to our CROPWISETM platform, which already digitally connects nearly 200 million acres of land, and demonstrates our commitment to investing in and partnering with AgTech providers."

The launch of the digital diagnosis and mapping tool for harmful nematodes coincides with the global launch of Syngenta's TYMIRIUM® technology, a next-generation nematicide and fungicide for both seed and soil applications that can help farmers maximise crop output while preserving soil biodiversity and health.

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