Nordetect’s Data Farmer Digest is a knowledge center designed to support members of the AgTech industry through shared resources and knowledge. It's where we gather our most valuable learnings on leveraging data and technology for farms. Our goal is to enable growers, consultants, agronomists, and other AgTech professionals to improve their growth strategies.
This month we’re exploring the benefits of adding silica to industrial hemp and the best methods for application.
Indoor soilless cultivation is gaining traction in the plant breeding industry because it gives the breeder enhanced control over the environment and feeding regimes. Soilless growing also supports healthier plant growth because there is no threat of soil-borne diseases. For high-value plants like industrial hemp or medical cannabis, these advantages help maximize crop quality and output.
Like traditional growing methods though, soilless hemp cultivars still require keen attention, care, and nutrient dosing. Making small changes in the nutrient management of your soilless system can directly influence plant growth and crop quality. Enter: Silica.
Silica & Hemp Growth: A Budding Relationship
Even though cannabis plants don’t require silica to survive, when added the chemical enhances several physiological traits:
Builds disease resistance and manages powdery mildew
Protects against pests and environmental pollutants
Improves abiotic and biotic stress tolerance
Mitigates heavy metal toxicity, especially important for medical help
For hydroponic growers, adding silica to your nutrient solution could help you see accelerated growth because of the immediate access to nutrients your growing method delivers. Silica application can be more complex in hydroponics, but you may find the growth reward worth it!
Why does Silica have such a positive effect on hemp?
Cannabinoids are produced in the trichomes, those tiny hairs that are found on the surface of plants. The trichomes are usually found on the above-ground portions of the plant and they provide disease and pest protection and help maintain optimal humidity, so the plant doesn’t dry out. These trichomes accumulate Silica! This means adding Silica to the roots stimulates trichome growth than in the absence of it.
Choosing the Right Silica Supplement
There are a variety of commercial options for your Silica additive, not all are equally effective though. Keep in mind that the higher the silicon dioxide concentrate (get a minimum of 8%), the more available the chemical becomes to your plant’s roots.
Another alternative is Wollastonite, a natural mineral and a great source of Silica. You can add it to a solution and get a slow release of Silica exponentially higher than peat moss, perlite, coconut coir, and vermiculite.
Bruce Bugbee’s lecture on the Cornell SIPS YouTube Channel talks about the Wollastonite method more and gives great insight into the science behind Silica and hemp’s relationship. Watch it here!
Need more help with your nutrient management system in your cannabis crops? Contact our team to learn how our analyzer helps you optimize crop performance.
2022 is already shaping up to be a busy year. But before we dive headfirst into the action that this new year brings, we want to look back at how much has changed in 2021.
We have a lot to celebrate, but what stands out to us the most is our Early Access customers. We spent the year building Nordetect alongside growers, agronomists, product managers, and crop researchers, and it thrill us to be a partner in their growth and progress.
Built an incredibly talented team of 10 members from over six countries to accelerate product development and adoption
Launched an exclusive Early Access Program to onboard clients across US and Europe in the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) industry
Secured grant funding of over $500K from InnovationFundDenmark and Eureka Foundation.
Won the $250K prize at Grow-NY and won Bayer Crop Science’s Annual startup call
Expanded the Nordetect nutrient panel (NPK, Ca, Mg) to test and analyze for more chemistries reliably and simultaneously
2021’s success resulted from the courage and conviction of our team. From developing efficient processes for working remotely to solving some of the hardest multi-dimensional problems, we are confident in what the next chapter holds.
We started the year with a $1.5 million seed round from Luminate, SOSV, Rockstart, and PreSeed Ventures to give vertical farms a better way to monitor and manage nutrients. Various grants also brought in $500K in non-dilutive funding to support product development.
Building Our A-Team
Even before we started Nordetect, we knew what we wanted our core tech team to look like:
Multi-Dimensional Problem Solvers: agile at iterating on client/market learnings using different perspectives
Mission Driven: have experience working with farms and sustainability to bring first-hand knowledge
Our team's expertise covers plant science, microfluidics, assay development, deep learning, and hardware development.
Nordetect Early Access Program
With fresh capital and a dedicated team, we launched our first Early Access Program, an exclusive waitlist program that helps next-generation data farmers and consultants partner with us.
From enhancing their yields, to rapidly iterating nutrient recipes, to lowering their nutrient waste, our clients never stop amazing us with the use cases of our product.
Now, our core focus is rolling out production units to our first Early Access customers while opening up the program to new customers.
Aligning With The Ecosystem - Bayer Crop Science & Grow-NY
Securing multiple partnerships and grants at some of the most prestigious competitions in the industry helped us nurture relationships to power product development and adoption. Some notable ones include:
Seamless Customer Experiences – From AgroChip to Cloud to Crops
The pilot program brought deep, rich feedback that helped us polish our product experience to a degree that has our customers saying “Damn, that’s fast”!
Some of the key features incorporated in the 2022 Early Access batch include:
Expanded Nutrient Panel: The AgroChip, a proprietary microfluidic device, tests a total of five chemistries including NPK, Calcium, and Magnesium, with Sulphur and other micronutrients in the pipeline. Simply insert the AgroChip in the Analyzer, add the sample to the AgroChip, click analyze, and view your results in minutes! Want to request a nutrient for your farm? Drop us a line.
Nordetect End-to-End Nutrient Management Platform: Users can design custom views to visualize nutrient levels anytime, across every tray or aisle. You can also store data on your farm CRM or trigger the next fertigation cycle. Nordetect ensures efficient nutrient use as you improve yields and crop quality.
2022 and Ahead
We will be doubling down on solving problems for building-based vertical farms, hydroponics, aquaponics, shipping containers, and closed and semi-closed greenhouses. Our nutrient panel will be best suited for cannabis, berries, tomatoes, and leafy green growers. If this sounds like you, get on our waitlist!We would love to talk to you about your needs and challenges and learn what you would like to see us build.
We would like to thank each of you for being a part of this journey and hope we can meet in person soon! Be the first to know what’s happening at Nordetect by subscribing to our updates! You’ll hear about the benefits of real-time nutrient analysis, bio-fertilizers, opportunities to grow your career in Agtech, and much more!
The company Nordetect was ready to roll out a new product for rapid soil analysis to farmers in Europe. However, the entrepreneurs discovered a big challenge and had to re-saddle. Now the company will focus on water in, among other things, vertical agriculture and will challenge competitors such as the billion group Foss.
Entrepreneurs Keenan Pinto and Palak Sehgal have not only been far and wide geographically in trying to develop a scalable product for agriculture.
The founders of Nordetect, which is based in Denmark, have had to completely re-saddle on the segment that the first thought should bring them millions and be for the benefit of farmers on a global level.
However, the $ 2.2 million that entrepreneurs have raised since the founding of Nordetect in 2017 is not wasted. The owners have modified their product to now also reach another agricultural segment - namely the vertical.
"We have evolved from being a one-product company to being a tech company, and we strive to provide testing and analysis of water, soil, food, etc. We have proven that our chemistry and platform technology work, and we know that there is a demand for it in the agricultural and food industry," says co-owner and founder of Nordetect Palak Sehgal.
According to the two entrepreneurs, with their current product in water analysis for horticulture and vertical agriculture, they can reach a market potential of $30 million a year. However, they still believe that their original idea in the field of soil analysis can bear fruit in the long run, which is why they are hoping for a breakthrough.
"It's a market with a potential of $ 1.1 billion a year in soil analysis," says Keenan Pinto, who points out that Nordetect is also considering entering food analysis to prevent food waste.
Nordetect's product is intended for analysis of e.g. soil or water much faster than the practice that exists today. Faster analysis and testing of soil or water samples can ensure more efficient growth of e.g. Crops.
It can ensure farmers or vertical farms more efficient cultivation with lower costs if there is faster and better insight into the growth environment, which is why the two Nordetect founders assess that there is demand for their product.
From India to Denmark
The story of Sehgal and Pinto begins back in 2008 when they met studying for their bachelor's degrees at the Department of Technology in Manipal, located in southwestern India. Pinto moved from Mumbai, while Sehgal came from New Delhi.
After completing their bachelor's degrees, the two went on to master's programs in the UK and both ended up at Nottingham University specializing in plant genetics modification.
Sehgal subsequently returned to India to research biomedicine, while Pinto worked for a company that developed optical laboratory equipment. They both tell with enthusiasm about discoveries and developments in the research work.
"You basically visualized DNA. It was pretty cool stuff," Sehgal interrupts, while Pinto talks about his work.
The turning point for the Nordetect establishment came in August 2016. Sehgal visited Pinto, who had moved to Denmark to get closer to his family and work for the company Space10.
The two participated in a TechBBQ event at the Opera House in Copenhagen. The feeling of being among like-minded people struck the two entrepreneurs. There were dialogues about future dreams in technological innovation. The two felt that they had ended up in the perfect city to start something new.
"We had both found full-time employment, so we met in the evenings and on weekends to work at Nordetect. We only had our idea, but we were sure that if we could make it work, it would be magnificent," says Pinto.
Experiences in China
Although the two Nordetect founders found themselves comfortable in Denmark, they were given the opportunity to participate in Hax, an accelerator program in China, and in October 2017 they packed their bags and left. It was the first time they realized they had established a company.
"It just made sense and it looked real. We had to try Hax and let the product be tested and learn from entrepreneurs with big 'exits' behind it. It was inspiring and I thought if we did not grab it here opportunity now, then we might never try to develop a startup business," says Sehgal.
She is quickly complemented by Pinto, who says that in terms of hardware, China is not what Western countries expect. Previously, China was a place with affordable solutions, but now they could bring a quality that Nordetect could not get in Denmark for small quantities of products, Pinto points out.
"It has certainly been an interesting journey, especially because we did not do it the usual way. It was special that we moved to Shenzhen because companies will usually build hundreds of units before they even consider moving to China," he said.
In 2018, Pinto and Sehgal moved from Shenzhen to San Francisco as part of the program. Now the focus was on raising capital from investors in Silicon Valley.
Here, the two entrepreneurs were challenged on where and how to improve the product, and soon they felt ready to start thinking about sales.
The Need to Re-Saddle
The next step was to begin a global rollout of their product for rapid analysis of land for agriculture. However, it was here that they faced a challenge that changed their whole mindset. They found key differences in how countries analyze land and use the results.
Therefore, it became too complicated to calibrate the products differently to have a global breakthrough, and the two entrepreneurs had to take a few steps back to figure out how they could make their product scalable.
Sehgal and Pinto say that they felt they had made the wrong choice, but at the same time, they were convinced that there was a demand for analytical products in agriculture and came to the conclusion that it must be just as important to be able to make quick and frequent analysis of water in the same way as soil.
"Something clicked. These are the same nutrients we analyze in water. The analysis comes from water tanks, whether you are in Canada, the Netherlands, or Denmark. We could relatively easily change our product to work for water analysis," says Sehgal.
Although the product was calibrated differently, the concept was the same. It should be easy to use and give faster results to get the best nutritional balance in hydroponic cultivation such as vertical farming.
"The industry is aware of how important and significant small changes in soil and water conditions or lighting conditions are for growth. So the value in analyzing water is the same as for soil, but easier to make scalable globally," says Pinto.
The entrepreneurs used their networks in the Netherlands, Germany, and North America to discover that there was a demand for the product. While the ambitions are great for Nordetect, the founders are aware that they are up against companies such as Foss, which sells analysis equipment for more than 2 billion DKK / NOK per year.
"Where we think we are different is that we believe in larger fully automated systems and we believe in compact decentralized products. We think like a futuristic company, but we also look up to companies like Foss," says Pinto.
Focusing More On Customers
Nordetect currently has 11 employees, while expecting to be a company with 25 employees by the end of 2022. In 2021, they have added a new employee approximately every month.
The entrepreneurial company can produce about 2,000 chips a month for their product, allowing them to produce about 5-15 analyzers. According to the founders, the company is working to expand their production capacity as they are limited by chip production.
According to Pinto, the company is not currently focusing on the turnover, but on getting a stable production of their equipment and sending it out to the customers.
"We have a goal of reaching 50 customers over the course of this year, and I definitely think we'll reach that - and maybe more. We're also looking at what kind of subscription model we want to use," he says.
The two entrepreneurs say that they will continue to use Copenhagen as a research environment in the future, but where their commercial headquarters will be located has not yet been decided. However, the founders say they see particular potential in the United States and are hiring a department head for the country.
Nordetect is mainly owned by Palak Sehgal and Keenan Pinto, but also has minority shareholders such as the venture capital firm Sosv.