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JD TECH Inc. presents future-oriented farming in the context of the 4th industrial revolution
Bananas are planted on a smart farm, and the farm provides an energy source enabled by innovative energy technology. And farmers meet consumers in the metaverse. That’s the future of farming. “A combination of agriculture and technology ushers in a huge market,” said Kim Hee-chan, CEO of JD TECH Inc., which sets out the future of farming by capitalizing on the 4th industrial revolution.
Open a way to data-driven scientific farming
Looking for a new crop to grow in its smart farm, JD TECH found bananas. “Bananas are technically not a fruit. The banana plant was an herb, not a tree. The banana is short-lived so as to be harvested quickly after being planted. If the temperature is well conditioned, you can grow it even in Siberia. And it is easy to care for on a smart farm and commercially viable. That’s why I began cultivating bananas,” said Kim.
Being short-lived, bananas grow quickly for harvesting, making them a good candidate for smart farming. It takes just one month for the banana to grow from 50cm to 2m (left). Kim showing a banana flower (right)
He placed IoT devices and sensors in the farm to monitor the temperature and the humidity of the air and the soil, the light conditions, and the level of CO2, and began controlling the plants remotely. The daily farming logs grew to be sufficient big data to portray the right environment for farming. “Over time, in addition to the temperature and humidity conditions, I was able to figure out the level of photosynthesis of the plants responding to the CO2 concentration in the air. I grew confident to systematically take care of the cultivation with the data,” explained Kim.
The IoT sensors (left) placed across the banana farm of JD TECH collect the atmosphere and the soil data for real-time control (right).
Scientists and expert organizations conducted research into the JD TECH data, comparing and analyzing the extracted cultivation data. When the results were used for the facility installation and the environment control, it was much easier to predict the yield and the quality. It was the beginning of data-driven scientific farming.
“Agriculture has relied on experiences. No data was available. Every farm has different problems, such as a low CO2 level or high humidity. They need a way to collect accurate data instead of advanced technologies.”
Farming has no limits, from being an energy company reaching to the metaverse
The banana, a tropical plant, requires a lot of water and heat. The power supply equipment of the smart farm had to run around the clock. In order to save water consumption, he collected rainwater for farming. At one moment, he hit on the idea of using the water-thermal energy production system where heating and cooling energy is extracted from water. Jeju was the right place to find the technology, because the island is a leading force in the Korean energy industry. With the development of his interest in energy, he realized that Jeju was one of the best locations to introduce the new and renewable energy to future-oriented farming.
“In Jeju, electricity is produced so much to the extent where its new and renewable energy production system should put a brake on the power output. I thought that the excess electricity could be stored and used for farming, expecting that the farm profitability would be improved,” explained Kim. His smart farm business was readily developed into an energy business. At present, JD TECH is leading a joint study with the Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER) to store electricity in ocean water titled 「Core technology development for ocean water-based environment-friendly energy storage」.
A metaverse digital twin farm (METAFARM), a new retail platform, is under development, where small-sized farms meet consumers. ⓒJD TECH
A new retail platform was needed as a place where small-sized farms meet customers. The idea goes that a consumer plants a banana tree on a virtual farm, and a banana farm grows a banana tree on their behalf and delivers the harvested bananas to the customer. The idea was translated into a metaverse development. METAFRAM, a digital twin farm to link farmers and consumers, was recognized for its innovative idea and selected to be on the 「Ministry of Science and ICT’s metaverse platform development support program」.
Farming added with technology ushering in a whole new world
“I am often told, “how come a farming company is a tech company?” If agriculture and technology are combined, a whole new world opens. Normal farming is converted to digital farming, creating added value that attracts young talents. Then the urban food problems would be resolved.”
CEO Kim Hee-chan believes that new technologies create new markets, having provided education on smart farms and running a maker space for IoT training in Jeju. Making use of data-driven smart farming technology, he pulled off the cultivation of the Gros Michel, an endangered banana variety, for the first time in Korea.
JD TECH succeeded in cultivating the Gros Michel, an endangered banana variety, for the first time in Korea. Gros Michel seedling (photo)
“Over 1,000 banana varieties exist in the world, and people have consumed only one type, Cavendish. The Gros Michel went almost extinct due to the Panama disease in the 1950s. That’s why the Cavendish, though less sweet, gained popularity with strong resistance against blights. I am certain that data-driven farming will create a high value-added market.”
Kim Hee-chan, CEO of JD TECH Inc.