Gulu Bekker - CEO
Gulu grew up on a farm near Cradock in the Eastern Cape (South Africa). This childhood experience instilled in him a love for the land, and – on a more practical level – taught him how to run a profitable farm. His interest in sustainable farming practices inspired him to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Conservation Ecology at Stellenbosch University (SU), after which he obtained a master’s degree in Environmental Management at the SU’s School of Public Leadership. He started his career as an Environmental Practitioner, which involved doing many Environmental Impact Assessments for agricultural developments. This practical experience sparked an interest in integrated pest management (IPM). He consequently returned to academia to investigate the spatial distribution patterns of deciduous fruit pests in the Western Cape (South Africa), making use of geographic information system (GIS), remote sensing and machine learning technologies. The main aim of his research was to generate pest infestation risk maps on a variety of scales, which can guide decision-making relating to the application of control measures. He completed his PhD in Entomology in 2018 and was appointed as the chief executive officer (CEO) of CropsMonitor in April 2019.
Adriaan van Niekerk - CTO & Founder
Adriaan has more than 20 year's experience in the development of geospatial technologies for agricultural applications. He earned a PhD from SU in 2008, thanks to his research on the development of a web-based GIS, called CLUES (Cape Land Use Evaluation System), for assessing the suitability of agricultural land for crop production. Since then his focus has been on the use of satellite imagery for monitoring the condition of crops, which led to the establishment of CropsMonitor. As a full-time academic, he is exposed to the latest research in remote sensing and precision agriculture, which is frequently incorporated into the CropsMonitor products and services.
Simple, reliable and affordable crop monitoring.
CropsMonitor is a subsidiary of GIS Consulting, a company registered in South Africa. GIS Consulting has been providing geospatial solutions – mainly in the form of geographical information systems (GIS) and remote sensing services – for a wide range of applications since 1997. Recently there has been an substantial increase in the number and frequency of requests from the agricultural sector (e.g. agribusinesses, agronomists, extension officers, and farmers) for satellite images of cultivated areas. Producers are realizing that earth observation and precision farming techniques can significantly increase yields and reduce costs. This is particularly relevant as agricultural production intensifies and farming units become larger. CropsMonitor was specifically established to meet this growing need and to focus on supplying simple, reliable and affordable crop monitoring services for any location worldwide.
Experience and continuous engagement is key.
Many of our clients are large agribusinesses (e.g. agricultural cooperatives), who use our maps and reports to add value to their existing services. This is a great advantage as it allows us to regularly interact with a range of service providers (e.g. agronomists, soil scientists, entomologists, engineers, irrigation specialists) and farmers. Through these engagements we have gained invaluable insight into the requirements of the industry and have, in collaboration with our partners, fine-tuned our products to meet the most pressing needs.
Reducing costs by using free stuff and up-scaling.
We can offer quality services at very low prices by making use of free data and technologies. We currently serve hundreds of farmers throughout the world and cloud-based computing enables cost-effective up-scaling as our client base grows. The cost-savings realized through using free stuff and by up-scaling has already had a positive effect on our price structure. Initially, most of the serviced fields were irrigated and intensively cultivated, but our new pricing scheme encourages large orders and there has been a notable increase in interest for maps and reports of rainfed crops and even rangelands!
We do not have all the answers.
We have enough experience in providing geospatial services to the agricultural sector to know that we do not have all the answers (or even all the questions!). Crop cultivation is extremely complex and no-one knows better about what is happening in a field than the farmer. Our aim is to provide timely and accurate information about the condition of crops, but we cannot determine the causes of problems – and we certainly cannot offer solutions! The service will, however, detect and highlight problems as soon as they start affecting crop health.