Christophe Duquenne, from TerraNIS Chile: “We want to deliver precision agriculture tools to cooperatives and producers who have not yet accessed this type of data”
With more than three years in Chile, today this French SME specialized in geoinformation services is officially established as a company in the country. Its objective is to take advantage of the national potential in agriculture, vineyards and tourism to provide tools that help companies optimize their processes, but also – in the long term – expand to other countries in the region. And through joint work with Eurochile, promote technology transfer projects to local companies.
In 2016, the company TerraNIS, an innovative French SME specialised in the design, development and commercialisation of geoinformation services based on satellite images and drones began its first surveys in Chile, attracted by the large number of acres of vineyards in the country, as well as its economic and social stability.
This is because the company created three years before by Marc Tondriaux and David Hello, both with more than 25 years of experience in space applications acquired in the Airbus group, has its main focus of work in the fields of agriculture, the environment and the territory management. This led to Tondriaux to participate in several missions to Chile in 2017 and began to generate business contacts, which increased his interest in settling in our country.
That same year, the first commercial representation arrived, but the installation process in the country was formally completed in March of this year, when TerraNIS was officially established as a Chilean company. As part of the Copernicus network of liaison and information centers, in which Eurochile also participates, both entities have generated close contact and TerraNIS actively participates in the Foundation’s seminars, business rounds and workshops.
In this interview, Christophe Duquenne, commercial manager of TerraNIS Chile, talks with Eurochile about the opportunities that are opening up in the country in this new phase, as well as the prospects of joint collaboration with the Foundation for new projects.
Terranis has been operating in Chile for more than three years. Why are you interested in working in our country, and what are the main opportunities that you see for the development of your company?
With its 150 thousand acres of vineyards and economic stability, Chile seemed an ideal market to test our products in 2017. Now we already have clients and experience in this market, not only in matters of precision agriculture but also in territory management with services for forest areas and land occupation maps, for example. In addition, Chile is next to Argentina, which has an impressive vineyard area; and Peru, with the agriculture sector in full development.
In what areas are you mainly working today, what are your main projects and with what type of services?
In Chile we have diversified our services for agriculture with different services: monitoring of crop growth and detection of anomalies (Pixaigri and CropEO), optimization of nitrogen fertilization (Fertisat) and irrigation (with Wago). We also offer specific services for the management of forest areas, soil occupation, vegetation and urban trees (Greencity), heat zones in cities, urban planning and management and agricultural territories. We have just closed a project with CIREN on fire studies and impacts in the province of Concepción. We are interested in carrying out more projects in collaboration with local entities in the future.
Why did you decide to formally establish in Chile, what advantages does this have and what are the long-term objectives that are being considered?
The business opportunities and economic climate of the country seemed ideal to export our services to this new market. Furthermore, from Chile we will be able to reach other markets such as Argentina, which has a large area of vineyards. But also Peru, Brazil and Ecuador, which present opportunities for the development of precision agriculture. The same with Colombia. In these more than 3 years of presence in Chile, we validated the initial idea of the potential to do business in the country with the creation of the TerraNIS Chile SpA. In the long term, in addition to expanding in these countries, we want to further develop in Chile in the three activity sectors –agriculture, viticulture and environment–, find distributors for our agricultural services and get involved in other projects for our R&D activities with Chilean collaborators.
What role does georeferencing have in agriculture today, why is its application so important?
Agriculture is adapting to the current climatic and economic climate in which the producer has to optimize time, resources and have reliable data to make the best decisions. Precision agriculture provides tools and data to the farmer or company so that they can optimize their processes, face and anticipate the future challenges of the agricultural sector.
How does this translate into progress towards more efficient and sustainable agriculture?
A concrete example is our Oenoview service, with which a vineyard can save up to 30% in fertilizers, taking care of the environment and at the same time saving time and money. In the same way, Wago allows to optimize the irrigation of crops, Fertisat the use of fertilizers in extensive crops, and with CropEO to detect crop growth problems in advance.
What are the comparative advantages of Chile to implement such georeferencing projects in agriculture on a large scale?
Chile has great wine and agricultural potential. The management of natural spaces is also of importance. The effects of climate change give the need to adapt and optimize resources. We want to accompany these changes with simple support tools to adapt to these changes in the best possible way.
Are you planning to work in technology transfer or in the joint development of technology in the country with some national institutions?
Yes! In fact, we have just finished a project on the 2017 forest fires in the Province of Concepción with the CIREN where we studied the burned surfaces, the soil occupation of these areas, the severity of the fire, including monitoring of post-fire vegetation. We are looking at other potential future possibilities for similar projects with CONAF and the Ministry of the Environment, for example.
You, like Eurochile, are part of the Copernicus network of liaison and information centers. How important is this network in the work you perform, what are its main advantages?
This positions us as a point of reference to illustrate in a very concrete way the use of Copernicus geospatial data and help the regional dissemination of these. It is important for us to highlight that we have developed many services based on Copernicus data, specifically Sentinel satellite data, and thus demonstrate operational and commercial applications based on these. It gave us the opportunity to present at various events such as seminars, technology fairs and conferences.
How will the joint work with Eurochile be promoted now that you are formally installed in the country? What projects could you work from now on?
It actively seeks to be able to work together on technology transfer projects in the agricultural sector, for example, applying for funds or through private financing. We want to be able to deliver precision agriculture tools to cooperatives and producers that do not yet have access to this type of data to optimize their processes and resources, and to be more competitive. In the area of tourism we are also looking for opportunities for collaboration, where the processing of satellite images can provide information about the impact of climate change and the implications on tourism activities, for example.