We want smaller scale farming to flourish.

 

Our story:

vidacycle tech took root when Abby and her family started farming in Chile 10 years ago. We have 8000 olive trees and a few hundred were dying back each year after the frost - it was devastating to see many years of growth (and hard work) die back completely. The worst thing was we couldn’t tell if the trees were affected randomly or if the same trees were being affected each year, so it was hard to know what to do about it.

We realised we needed to record information about the trees, we tried using paper and then expensive handsets, but they were hopeless. They took too long to enter and find information - a real time waster.

Abby has a background in tech, so we built our own software to record information whilst out and about in the fields. We bought RFID tags online and put them on each tree, then we developed an app with a few simple buttons that anyone on the farm could use to input the latest information about the tree with a few taps. We don’t even need internet in the field, it all syncs when we get back to the office.

Each day we can look online to see sectors or individual trees that need attention right away, and also observe long term patterns of tree behaviour so we can give better care to struggling trees. We particularly love looking at the photos of a tree after pruning and then when in full bloom to see which pruning techniques foster the most flowers.

Pretty soon our neighbour saw the potential for this system on her blueberry farm, a totally different way of using it - she started using the same technology to track how many blueberries each worker picked, then another farmer began using it out in the vineyard to keep track of the productivity and health of his vines. We launched the system commercially in early 2017, now farmers are using it to grow vines, sea buckthorn, blueberries, pears, apples and more in the UK, US and Chile. We are also working with different organisations supporting on-farm research, as Sectormentor is a great tool for collecting comparable data. 

 We are very excited that we have created something that is valuable to many different smaller-scale farmers whether they want to track sectors, trees, workers, vines or even sheep. This is about creating reliable, easy to enter data that allows smaller-scale farms to flourish.

The team:

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Co-founder: Abby studied physics and then art/design. She spent some time working on her family’s farm in Chile and ever since has had a deep kinship with the land, balanced with the weight of the perpetual risks and unknowns. Not long after, she got back into coding and through conversations with her dad, Tom, developed software initially for his farm, then his neighbours and now for smaller scale farmers. Abby loves to code but her niche lies in the ability to work closely with the people who use these systems, to create something that works for them. Abby is committed to supporting the farming community to thrive and so also makes a podcast, Farmerama, sharing the voices of farmers. Read some of her thoughts here.

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Co-founder: Inti grew up travelling the world with his parents settling a couple of times though the years. First in a community in Brazil where much of the food was sustainably grown & tended on shared plots. A few years later his parents moved to the amazon rainforests of Peru and worked to protect an area of 10,000 hectares of virgin rainforest from illegal logging and deforestation. During all this time his parents had a vegetable garden which he spent many hours helping on. All this to say that he feels strongly about small scale farming using methods that are sustainable and will feed and protect the planet for generations to come. When it comes to work Inti is a generalist and he is happiest writing code, planning the next features for our apps and thinking about our long term strategy, ideally all on the same day!

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Farmer & Chile lead: Tom started his working life as a furniture maker/carpenter, has built many passive solar houses, and spent many years running a CAD/CAM textiles/surface design software company. In the mid 2000s he finally returned to his true passion, sustainable food and farming and started an olive farm in Chile. Farming on a small scale has been full of ups and downs but the need for a way to keep track of what was going on out in the fields became clear if the business was going to work, and so vidacycle tech was born.

Swiss lead: Sabrina has always been interested in the activities of the Swiss farmer community. Nowadays, she has the opportunity through her sister and her brother-in-law to experience a typical Swiss farmer's daily life and business. As a trained economist she is keen to see how new techniques can help farmers to be sustainable, effective and efficent. The software sectormentor und workmentor serve Sabrina's passion to integrate new technologies into existing structures and to help her to support farmers to be successful - also for future generations.

We also work with a number of awesome freelancers in design, UX and communications.