Error

Close

search
OPN Connect Newsletter 275 · June 30, 2022

Stout Using AI to Assist Growers


Stout Industrial Technology, based in Salinas, CA, was founded in 2019 and successfully launched its first commercially available product, The Smart Cultivator, the following year to address a critical labor shortage in the agriculture industry.

Stout's The Smart Cultivator

Global Organics Aug 2022

The Smart Cultivator and weeder utilizes artificial intelligence and machine vision to eliminate weeds and cultivate ground in a single pass and is purpose-built to withstand the harsh environments of farming.

“We start with a durable, agriculturally proven mechanical platform, combined with a state-of-the-art neural network and AI model trained to eliminate weeds and reduce weed pressure in farming operations,” explained Brent Shedd, CEO of the company. “Each machine acts as a weeding crew, so they significantly reduce reliance on scarce skilled labor and chemical inputs.”

Brent Shedd, CEO, Stout Industrial Technology

Chelan Aug 2022

The company was incubated inside a large grower/shipper operation that’s been around for more than five decades.

“We start with a durable, agriculturally proven mechanical platform, combined with a state-of-the-art neural network and AI model trained to eliminate weeds and reduce weed pressure in farming operations.” - Brent Shedd

“It’s an unusual pathway; you generally have technologists coming out of Silicon Valley or Seattle, who see an opportunity in agriculture, so they put something together and try pitching it to growers, which has a checkered success rate,” Shedd said. “The other path you see is growers who are looking for solutions for their fields and can’t find what they need built to the standards that are required, so they start up their own R&D.”

Misionero Aug 2022

Before and after using Stout's The Smart Cultivator

While some growers keep any developments for themselves, Stout was spun out as its own company because at its core it’s an artificial intelligence company.

“Stout is focused on applying AI in agriculture, which takes the form of both mechanical realizations in the field but also takes the form of data provision that can be actuated across any number of different types of existing and new equipment,” Shedd said. “It’s about providing plant-level data and information that impacts the plant like soil analysis and pest detection.”

“The other path you see is growers who are looking for solutions for their fields and can’t find what they need built to the standards that are required, so they start up their own R&D.” - Brent Shedd

Cal-Organic Aug 2022

Organic growing, he noted, is more about what you can’t do than what you can, and Stout’s AI solutions can make a big difference by providing data that helps growers find better alternatives to harmful inputs that the organic industry is built on eliminating.

Stout's The Smart Cultivator

“Right now, we’re selling every Smart Cultivator that we can build,” Shedd said. “We’re still [in the] early stages relative to awareness that there is an AI-powered, software-defined weeding implement available that recognizes the individual crops, the individual weeds, and can provide that type of data to the grower.”

Vitalis

The Smart Cultivator is a unique solution in that regard, giving growers actual data about their field that can help with operational decisions to further reduce costs.

Stout's True Vision System

“We have a Smart Sprayer that uses the same AI model, neural network, and vision system to identify the environment, the plant, the weeds, the soil, and all of that,” Shedd said. “That points toward the possibilities that exist in applying that same system to as many different types of agricultural implements as you can imagine.”

“Right now, we’re selling every Smart Cultivator that we can build.” - Brent Shedd

Essentially, Stout can take a “dumb” implement and turn it into a “smart” implement by applying this back-end system to it. The capabilities depend on the implement, but the system itself is designed to operate in all lighting conditions, soil types, and a large number of crops. That number continues to grow as the AI trains on new input every day.

Stout continues to collaborate directly with its customers to build and launch solutions that solve actual problems in the field, particularly in areas such as labor and sustainability.

Stemilt Aug 2022

“We see opportunities around data and delivering data in a way that growers can put to use in the field,” Shedd said. “There’s a ton of data available from these machines, but the trick is processing and delivering that data in ways that the grower can use to save money and resources. It’s not just about the labor replacement side, which is important, but beyond that, it’s about lowering inputs and costs or optimizing practices in the field—data that can help growers increase their margins.”

Stout's The Smart Cultivator

He emphasizes that the machines Stout builds are manufactured specifically for the rigors of the field.

“There’s a ton of data available from these machines, but the trick is processing and delivering that data in ways that the grower can use to save money and resources." - Brent Shedd

“We hear all the time from customers who are blown away by the quality of the build and the heft of the implement itself, and it’s because it was built by a grower for a grower operation,” Shedd said. “Our machines are working six days a week, 18 hours a day, three shifts, and they just work.”

Looking ahead five years, Shedd sees the company playing a leadership role in the application of AI in agriculture, with more software-defined implements that have even greater capabilities.

OGS 2022 General Registration

Want Fresh News Delivered Regularly?

Sign up for OPN Connect 

Stay current on all the most important news
and features with our weekly newsletter.

Sign Up Todaykeyboard_arrow_right