sTARTUp Day winner Paul-Tech equips farmers with a smart digital assistant

It’s time to get to know the heroes of this year’s sTARTUp Pitching competition! First up is Paul-Tech – an Estonian agritech startup whose smart soil stations allow farmers to make data-based decisions. At sTARTUp Pitching 2023, Paul-Tech was awarded a a €200k syndicate investment by EstBAN, which will help power the company’s expansion to the UK and Swedish markets.

Paul-Tech is an agritech start-up that helps farmers monitor the processes in the soil and use resources efficiently, ensuring maximum profitability in crop production while preserving the environment.

The company was founded in 2019 by Mikk Plakk, Eve Plakk, Tiit Plakk and Anu Einberg as a continuation of several decades of research by Mikk’s grandfather Paul Plakk, a researcher at Tallinn Polytechnic Institute, and later by Mikk’s father Tiit Plakk. The company’s name is an hommage to Mikk’s grandfather.

"The soil sensor used in our product were originally developed by my grandfather and father. They help to understand what is happening in the field, for example, how much fertilizer is available to plants, how much fertilizer is still left in the soil to be used, etc.," says Mikk Plakk. "With Paul-Tech, we turned this research into a 'consumer product' – an everyday tool that assists farmers in decision-making."

Paul Tech’s soil station is a smart device that is installed in a carefully chosen location in the field. Its sensors measure the level of nutrients and moisture in the soil as well as temperature at two depth points. In addition, the above-ground unit measures air temperature and relative humidity. The data is measured every two hours, processed and sent to the cloud server. The station is powered by a solar panel and a battery, and is, essentially, maintenance-free.

The farmer can conveniently access the data on a web application. The data is presented in a user-friendly manner as interactive diagrams which display the situation in real time as well as outline trends. By comparing the data of various years, the farmer can evaluate the effect of the decisions on the crop and economic benefits to ensure the sustainability and efficiency of production.

Moreover, the platform provides automatic recommendations for efficient field management. Based on the data, the system can predict the development of the crop and the optimal timeframe for the necessary fieldworks as well as suggest the optimal amount of fertilizers and pesticides to be used in the field.

Mikk Plakk, CEO and co-founder of Paul-Tech, at sTARTUp Pitching 2023 finals.

"Our experience so far is that two different fields can have completely different needs. For example, in some fields, the level of nutrients after the winter period is very high. Our system then suggests that there is room for optimization. But in the other field, it's the other way around, " explains Mikk Plakk. “Knowing the condition of the soil, the farmer can carry out the works at exactly at the right time and in the necessary amounts.”

According to him, Paul-Techs soil sensors allows farmers to reduce the amount of fertilizers by at least 20%. Optimizing the use of fertilizers and pesticides is important for several reasons. First, it allows farmers to considerably reduce costs – all the more relevant considering the price hikes and supply chain issues experienced in the sector in recent years. Secondly, it helps to manage the fields in an environmentally friendly manner, in line with broader sustainability goals and policies.

We wish Paul-Tech continued success and hope to see them share their experience at future sTARTUp Day festivals!

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