InnerPlant, Inc., developer of genetically adapted living plant sensors, today launched its first sentinel plant, InnerTomato living sensor, a proprietary tomato plant that alerts farmers optically when it’s thirsty or sick. Farmers growing InnerTomatoes can photograph their fields with augmented reality on an iPhone, a drone or a satellite, keeping plants healthy, maximizing yields, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides resulting in more profits for farmers and healthier food for consumers.
“Farms today live on a pesticide treadmill of ever more toxic chemicals that grow big company profits at the expense of a bleak future,” said Shely Aronov, chief executive officer and co-founder of InnerPlant. “Our solution delivers healthy plants that help farmers reduce fertilizer and pesticide use, improve land-use via early detection, and grow healthy produce. InnerTomato is the first of our many upcoming InnerPlant species that will level the playing field for farmers.”
Plants alert their neighbor plants of stress by secreting chemicals from their roots and leaves to trigger their neighbors’ defense mechanisms. InnerPlant amplifies these natural signals by adding a safe protein, long studied for human consumption, to plants’ natural capabilities. When InnerPlants are thirsty, short of nutrients or under attack by pests or fungi, they show different colors that can be seen by optical devices ranging - from an iPhone to a satellite. Farmers only need tens of InnerTomato living sensors per field to have an effective defense system.
The optical signals from the plants alert farmers to their needs weeks before problems arise and remove the need for the blanket application of expensive chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Information communicated directly from the plants also helps increase yields and farm profits since even with huge amounts of agrochemicals, farmers routinely see up to 20% of their harvests destroyed by pathogens that could have been controlled with earlier detection and more responsive, plant-specific interventions.
“Farmers today spend hundreds of dollars per acre on pesticides and fertilizers,” said Carl Peterson, CEO of Peterson Seeds of North Dakota. “Giving them easy access to insights about their crops’ needs will allow them to do more with less while improving farming’s economic and environmental sustainability as a whole.”
Founded in 2018, InnerPlant has set its sights on revolutionizing farming by combining biotechnology, Big Data and the Internet of Things. InnerPlant’s plants are living IoT devices - the InnerTomato plant is the first of many staple plants to come. The company is also applying its plant-based signaling technology to soybeans, grapes and cover crops with the goal of turning every plant into a living sensor to give farmers easy-to-use tools that boost yields to supply consumers with healthy food while preserving the environment.
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