Yanmar Co., Ltd. (Yanmar) and Konica Minolta, Inc. (Konica Minolta) have announced that FarmEye Co., Ltd. (FarmEye), the new joint venture company, was established on 1 October 2017 as an agriculture remote sensing service business which will contribute to increased profitability for farmers.
The newly established FarmEye is developing an agriculture consulting service which carries out sensing and image analysis services for agricultural fields, as well as diagnostics and suggestions for improvement of crop growth conditions. These services will improve work efficiency and reduce labour input for farming by visualising agricultural product growth conditions through drone photography and analysis. This business will leverage both companies’ strengths by taking advantage of Yanmar's agricultural machinery and rich selection of farming management support services and Konica Minolta's sensing and image processing technologies to support the continued maintenance of the experience and expertise of farmers.
The business will initially focus on the Japanese rice farming industry, and will later be expanded to other crops and other overseas markets predominately in the Asia region, with an aim to reach a sales scope of ¥10 billion by FY2023.
Background and details
The number of agricultural workers in Japan has decreased by nearly 40% between 2005 and 2015. The average age of farmers has also continued to increase, meaning that the passing on and maintenance of experience and expertise is becoming a serious challenge. In response to this, Yanmar and Konica Minolta participated in the "ISSA Yamagata" project, adopted as the FY2014 Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries "Demonstration Project for the Establishment of Cutting Edge Agriculture through Cooperation between the Agriculture and Economic Industries", and began collaborative research in 2014 aimed at resolving rice farming issues, including "minimising labour input and maximising output for farming" and "a scientific approach to passing on and maintaining agriculture intuition and experience". Through proof of concept tests over a period of three years, the companies succeeded in achieving a 14.5% increase in average revenue per 10a for standard rice and 33% increase for high-quality rice, proving that this business can reliably contribute to the improvement of yields for farmers.
Yanmar and Konica Minolta firmly believe that through these tests, they can greatly contribute to resolving agricultural worker issues by leveraging both companies' technologies and expertise, and have therefore established this joint venture company in order to accelerate commercialisation of this service.
Yanmar and Konica Minolta technologies
Yanmar has built its rich and diverse agricultural management expertise and technologies by acting as a point of contact with agricultural workplaces through the provision of agricultural machinery. Konica Minolta's chlorophyll meter, SPAD series, has been in wide use throughout the world for the past 25 years in order to determine agricultural product growth conditions and fertiliser management.
Konica Minolta has further succeeded in combining the sensing technologies the company has refined through its chlorophyll meter products with image processing technologies using specialised cameras, which not only allow for measurement of chlorophyll for entire agricultural fields, but also for digitalisation of soil fertility and crop nitrogen absorption, which shows rice growth conditions. These figures have not been able to be accurately determined until now. Based on them, Yanmar's technologies are then utilised to carry out base fertiliser planning according to soil fertility variation and additional fertiliser planning according to variation in rice growth conditions. These proof of concept tests included achieving the world's first controlled fertilisation from the air through the use of unmanned helicopters, which automatically control fertiliser quantities based on the above data. These technologies will also allow for a variety of other agricultural consultation and provision of solutions to suit customer needs, such as improvement of soil quality by soil specialists, and compost spreading.
Joint venture company overview
FarmEye Co., Ltd.
1 October 2017
Head office location
Umeda Gate Tower, 1-9 Tsurunocho, Kita-ku, Osaka-shi
¥250 million (investment ratios: Yanmar: 51%, Konica Minolta: 49%)
 Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Census, Agricultural Construction Dyanmics Survey (Department of Statistics, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries). "Number of agriculture workers" refers to members of agricultural households aged 15 or older who were only employed in agriculture for the year preceding the date of the survey, or who were employed in agriculture and other industries but worked more days in agriculture.
 Figures are an example of results from proof of concept tests, according to Konica Minolta research.
 As of the end of September 2017, according to Yanmar research.