Agriculture Research Leads to Technology Start-Up Company

A company in Madison, Wisconsin is taking a different look at using technology in the agriculture industry. Agrograph is a start-up company formed from the research of Mutlu Ozdogan. As a trained geologist originally from Turkey, Mutlu currently serves as an assistant professor in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison (UWM). “I always knew that I wanted to branch into agriculture-based research…. the time is now right for this research to become a profitable business,” explained Mutlu. In fact, a couple of years ago, Mutlu co-founded Agrograph with two others when they purchased the research from the University.

Research leads to Business

The agriculture-based research journey for Mutlu was greatly influenced by his time working for NASA as a National Research Council Research Fellow. After completing his time at NASA, he accepted his current position at UWM researching remote sensing and satellite images in order to produce mapping for agriculture. The integration of technology and agriculture is happening at a rapid pace, especially for farmers utilizing technology for more efficient in-the-field practices. However, Agrograph and team are using an algorithm that provides a bigger picture field by field.

This algorithm takes free public data that is gathered through satellite images to predict field yields and answer sustainability questions for the future. “What Agrograph is doing is using satellite data, like a Google earth platform, and using those images to produce data and insights field by field,” explained Mutlu. The problem in previous years has been storing this massive quantity of data collected each day. Mutlu estimates there is more than a “terabyte of data every year that the company needs to store” in order for the algorithm to process up to 20 years of satellite images. Now, with the growth in data being stored in the cloud, it is the perfect time for Agrograph to take off.

The Business Plan

The Agrograph team, although all currently professors, is focused on creating a platform with a map interface that would inform customers with synthesized data from the algorithm. Mutlu shared that the platform will “give a bigger picture for crop insurance and commodities agencies.” The goal of predicting yields and sustainability could impact how these agencies approach business in the future. For example, insurance agencies can use the platform to change their process for severe weather damages. “Our desire is for Agrograph to correlate satellite images of crops to see any changes from wind, hail, fire and other things…Adjusters wouldn’t need to be sent to the field and it could change the way the insurance process is done,” explained Mutlu.

Currently, Mutlu and his co-founders are seeking their first customers to put the Agrograph platform to use. “All three of us are doing this part time,” said Mutlu, “The goal is to build up revenue so we could all be full-time working for the company.” Agrograph is in the last phase of development and hopes to make a huge impact in the agriculture industry moving forward.

Learn more from Mutlu Ozdogan and Agrograph as he speaks at 1 Million Cups Fargo on Wednesday, April 12th, 2017 at 9:15 a.m. at The Stage at Island Park.

Brent McNeal