November, 2022 – YMS is a long-term partner and supplier of geographical information systems for forest managers, which means that our systems monitor nearly half of Slovak territory.

The other half of the agricultural sector, land used for agriculture, is maintained by farmers. Similarly to foresters, at this age of ongoing climate change and overall uncertainty about how our climate will change, farmers need to think more strategically than ever. Therefore, the logical step was for YMS to expand the range of our systems from forestry to include monitoring agricultural land.
We asked RNDr. Radovan Hilbert, PhD, questions on agricultural topics that we can solve with/using our new systems.
What do you consider to be the most pressing problem(s) for farmers?
 Definitely climate change, which is already reflected in the production of the majority of important agricultural countries. Resilience to climate change is one of the most pressing agricultural challenges worldwide. When we add the impacts of climate change on agriculture with impacts on housing, industrialization coupled with population growth, inadequate protection of arable land with an overall lack of relevant and accurate data, we have a situation that requires a holistic professional approach.
How can the software systems you are developing help?
As an IT company we want to and can make meaningful contributions with data and its interpretation. This means acquiring current data on agricultural soil, about its management, its subsequent analysis, synthesis and interpretation of the results in a way that farmers can understand, that will actually help them care for the land in practice. We already have a solution for calculating erosion, which interactively simulates the impact of its care on its height. The calculator calculates several variants and farmers choose the one that will bring the highest level of protection at acceptable costs. And it’s not always difficult measures, for example. One of them is changing the direction of plowing with a tractor or planting a border/boundary.
How do you get relevant data?
The erosion calculator specifically is built on the most accurate data of surface and model terrains, we consult other factors with our partners. We obtain the other data on field management primarily from satellites. In a project with the European Space Agency and with partners from universities and SAS we created the solution ySpace, the so-called space translator, which won the Innovative Act of the Year Award. With it, we automatically download satellite images available every 5-7 days and interpret the selected happenings in the area. While for farmers we were able to monitor the spread of bark beetle, for farmers we can monitor, for example, drought/moisture and the state of vegetation during its growth. Every week during the season they can check on what part of the field everything is growing and where there are problems. By monitoring throughout the entire year it is possible to see where on the field the farmer has, for example, a systematic problem with the quality of topsoil, where too much water runs off, or where they irrigate too little. By accumulating data over several years, he can make strategic comparisons, long-term evaluations and make better decisions.
In what state are these services?
The erosion calculator and space translator are finished and tested products, ready for deployment. We are currently finishing an application for automatically identifying ravines, which are vertical indents in the territory, that cause not only complications during farming, but also have a strong degradation effect in farming territories. After the success of the first cooperation with the European Space Agency we have obtained a second project, where we retrospectively evaluate the fertility of Slovak fields over the last 20-30 years, thanks to the preserved old data from satellites. We will therefore be able to assess their production for specific fields and crops, what is doing the best and where, and how to best care for the soil – in a strategic view of changing conditions.
How will such relatively large elements reach individual farmers?
It’s clear that farmers won’t buy large systems, they need understandable services. We are working on an intuitive portal through which our processed data can be accessed by any registered user. The goal is for every farmer to be able to take advantage of the existence of interpreted satellite data and be able to get accurate data on what the satellite sees happening in his field right now. We are preparing reports that would help everyone, even a smaller farmer, improve soil protection and fertility to the maximum. We believe that soon it will become a service that no progressive farmer can do without.