Story of an Innovative App that lets

Farmers Monitor Crops From Eyes in the Sky

Using satellite data from the UN, & implementation of Machine Learning, PlantVillage monitors biomass on a plot of land, giving farmers insight into how their crops are growing.

About Client


Associate professor of entomology and biology, Penn State




AgroTechnology, Machine Learning, AI

Word from Client

We are providing solutions to farmers and extension workers by leveraging advances in AI, mobile phones, drones, satellites and nanotechnology. We don’t think technology alone is the solution, but we do believe they have the potential to help smallholder farmers.


Help farmers

tackle crop disease, adapt to the changing climatic condition and save their crops from destruction.

Create a platform for

knowledge providers to share critical information to growers around the world.

Expected Outcome

Application to couple with the device's camera to capture images of diseased plants and provides the user with a preliminary diagnosis with a high degree of accuracy.

Q&A forum for folks around the world to pose questions about farming.

RationaleBehind the system


Possibly the world's largest free library of science-based knowledge on plant diseases.The still-growing site covers 154 types of crops and more than 1,800 diseases and now houses the new image database.

A computerized plant diagnostic system that boasts an algorithm capable of diagnosing 26 diseases in 14 crops with 99 percent accuracy. In essence, computers have been “taught” to diagnose plant diseases by comparing the images of healthy and diseased leaves.

The app offers advice that could help farmers learn about crop varieties that are climate-resilient, affordable irrigation methods, and flood mitigation and soil conservation strategies, among other best practices.

Once downloaded, the app does not require wireless access to cellular data or remote computing power.

"PlantVillage Nuru" can draw in data from the United Nations' WaPOR (Water Productivity through Open access of Remotely sensed derived data) portal, a database that integrates 10 years' worth of satellite-derived data from NASA and computes relevant metrics for crop productivity given the available water.

Farmers don't need much technical knowledge or literacy to use the app; they simply point a phone at the infested crop and the app will provide an accurate diagnosis using the talking AI assistant, Nuru.

Used by United Nations across 70 countries and 21 languages to help growers manage the invasive fall armyworm.

Global Reach



Malawi, Egypt, Togo, Guinea

PlantVillage Nuru


mainly Kenya



Uganda, Kenya, Pakisthan, India




Key Findings

The Penn State researchers rigorously tested the performance of the machine-learning models with locally sourced smartphones in the typical high light and temperature settings of an African farm. In these tests,

the app was shown to be twice as good as human experts at making accurate diagnoses,

and it increased the ability of farmers to discover problems on their own farms.

Impact onthe Business


Downloads on single day


Improvement in Yeild






Active Users


Diagnose crop diseases, even without an internet connection

Integration of TensorFlow, open source software for numerical computation using data flow graphs.

Maintaining high accuracy level for disease detection

Integration of satellite weather data to predict weather condition

Power BI to present recorded diseases data on the map so scientist at Penn State can take decision and inform respective government to take precautionary action.

Hidden Brains path to the solution
  • Kanban approach to manage work with multiple stakeholders
  • Used Trello Board, to maintain complete transparency of the Work
  • Incremental release of new features that kept the users motivated with new improvements
  • Onsite visits with the client to the targeted countries to understand underlying problems
  • A dedicated team helped client with the flexibility of scaling up and down
  • A collaborative approach with experts from different countries and university experts from USA



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and solve it through technology.