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How Fasal Helps Farmers Grow Smarter with Meteor

Fasal is an AI-powered solution for farmers anchored on an IoT platform. Hear why Fasal uses Meteor to power their app and empower farmers with data now:

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The global population is expected to increase by 2.2 billion by 2050, which means the world’s farmers will have to grow about 70% more food than what they produce now.

Bad news? Farming is far from easy and involves a lot of uncertainties. Factor in the unknowns of global climate changes over the next 30 years, and the situation gets even more confusing.

How much irrigation does a certain crop need in a particular soil type? When should the crop be irrigated? Is there a chance of a specific disease attack on a crop? How much and which fertilizer to use?

Farmers think about these uncertainties not just during specific crop stages, but every minute, every hour, and every day while the crop grows on their farms. They make most of these crucial decisions based on their own experience, and knowledge passed on from their elders, or recommendations from their fellow farmers.

Unfortunately, this element of guesswork leads to less successful crops, more wasted water, and unnecessary environmental impacts (like over-spraying pesticides).

The team behind Fasal believes a massive disruption is needed in the way our farmers make farm-level decisions. According to them, only data-driven farming will remove this guesswork. So part of their ingenious solution called for a Meteor-built smart app.

In this case study, you’ll learn why Fasal chose Meteor and how this decision catapulted their success.

Meet Fasal: The Company Helping Farmers Grow More, Grow Better, and Grow Smarter

Fasal is a full-stack, AI-powered solution for horticulture anchored on an IoT-SaaS platform. It provides farmers with farm-level, crop-specific, and crop stage-specific actionable intelligence. This data then helps them optimize cultivation costs, increase yield, and boost the quality of their harvests.

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Fasal began as a startup in 2018 with just four team members. Now this crew of researchers, marketers, engineers, and statisticians are working together to truly challenge the status quo of horticulture and agriculture protocols.

Every piece of code we write, every marketing campaign we run, every agronomic model we build, every feature we ship impacts the way our food is grown and consumed,” the team says.

Smarter Farms, Happier Mother Earth

Giving farmers intelligent insights certainly saves them time and money. But the Fasal mission extends to the rest of the world and the next generation. Fasal’s innovative farming solution is “actually saving Mother Earth and us.”

The incredible Fasal platform has helped farmers:

Save over 9 billion liters of waterReduce pesticide costs by 60%Increase crop yields by an average of 40%

These strong benchmarks mean farmers are better equipped to grow healthy produce at lower costs and environmental impact for the increasing world population.

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Fasal believes in sustainable agriculture, and their solution impacts the social, economic, and environmental facets of that. Their innovation is helping farmers get closer to meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

So how does it work?

How Fasal Sense and the Fasal App Work In Harmony

Fasal created an IoT sensor device called Fasal Sense that monitors each farm and collects data 24/7. Farmers then use the Fasal App (built with Meteor) to access that data.

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The AI-powered, data-driven smart farming app helps farmers predict ideal growth conditions and resource requirements. Fasal allows them to continuously monitor several key components and notifies farmers when they need to take action, improving accuracy, certainty, and profitability.

Leveraging the power of Meteor, the Fasal development team built an app that offers farmers:

Microclimatic Forecasts

Fasal provides a farm-level microclimatic forecast with very high accuracy for the next 14 days. This keeps farmers well prepared for future weather risks.

Farmers can check out weather conditions for specific crops, soil moisture, and leaf wetness in the app. A typical Fasal advisory includes detailed information like: “High chances of rainfall between 7:00 PM and 9:00 PM on Block 1. Expected amount of rainfall is 3 mm.”

Disease and Pest Prediction

Fasal disease prediction and assessment systems forewarn farmers and Agri institutions about the possibility of crop disease and its severity. It can also alert them to the possibility of a pest outbreak so farmers can precisely time preventive measures.

Fasal tracks the lifecycle of various pathogens and pests specific to each crop and crop stage by monitoring the congenial on-farm micro-and macro-climatic conditions. A typical Fasal advisory looks like: “High Risk of Downy Mildew on Block 1. Take Revus Top, Mancozeb, or Acrobat preventive spray with good coverage at 8:00 AM.”

Precise Irrigation Alerts

The Fasal system continuously checks water availability in the soil to ensure that each crop’s irrigation requirements are precisely met at all times. This helps optimize water usage and prevents wasted resources.

The Fasal system considers aspects such as soil texture, crop, crop stage, soil water tension, rate of water loss, plant ecology, transpiration, and more to recommend precisely when and how much to irrigate. Farmers will see a typical Fasal irrigation advisory like: “You need to irrigate Block 1 with 4.3 liters/plant by 4:00 PM tomorrow.”

Manage and Monitor Farm Finances

The Fasal app even helps farmers plan, monitor, and analyze all accounting activities in a very simple and intuitive way. It provides real-time insight into the daily progress of crops and activities and makes it easy to manage sales, expenses, and cash flows.

Fasal’s holistic approach to monitoring micro-and macro-climatic conditions, below the soil parameters, solar conditions, crop stage, crop growth characteristics, etc., has been helping struggling farmers succeed. And it’s earned them a ton of recognition and praise along the way.

Fasal’s Impressive Trophy Shelf of Achievements

Fasal works with both local farmers and corporate customers. The village of Chhattisgarh, India, is a prime example of Fasal’s success. Vegetable farmer Prasant Maroo started using the startup’s technology in 2018. Mr. Maroo noticed a 20% increase in production of two of his main crops: chili and brinjal.

By using Fasal’s AI technology, he was also able to use less water. Water scarcity and over-irrigation are prevalent issues in Indian villages, so this result is very promising for eliminating resource wastage.

Mr. Maroo isn’t the only farmer who has benefited from Fasal. Their customer wins helped Fasal earn numerous awards and achievements for their hard work, such as The 2021 Best Use of AI in Agriculture Award and NASSCOM’s 2021 Next Gen Product of the Year.

Fasal is also Great Place To Work® certified. And the team has been featured in places like Forbes, Entrepreneur, NASSCOM, The Economic Times, VC Circle, and more.

So let’s take a look behind the curtain to see how all the magic happens.

The Fasal Tech Stack

The Fasal solution includes a few distinct components: the IoT hardware, the IoT back-end, the Fasal app, and their cloud-based machine-learning. Here’s how all those work together:

The IoT Hardware. This records sensor data and pushes it to the IoT back-end using 4G/3G/2G. Code is written in Embedded C. Fasal utilizes HTTP and MQTT protocol for payload delivery.

The IoT Back-End. This processes device telemetry data and stores it in MongoDB. It’s written in scalable Node.js and deployed using Docker on AWS Fargate.

The Fasal App. The app was purely written in JavaScript Node.js using Meteor Framework. Fasal manages a single code base for their web app and both iOS and Android apps.

Fasal recently moved their front-end architecture from the Blaze + jQuery + SCSS stack to their current VUE + Meteor + VueX stack.

They use the AWS Serverless platform for resource-heavy recurring processes. And cloud deployment occurs with Docker containers.

AI and Machine-Learning. Fasal primarily uses Python for all their ML/AI code, which they deploy on Amazon SageMaker.

3 Reasons Why Fasal Builds With Meteor

The Fasal team has been using Meteor JS for over four years. The Fasal App is their primary platform to deliver insights and advisories to their customers.

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When they first started building their app, the team researched everything they could about the potential frameworks they could use. Out of the sea of options, they chose Meteor because:

The Ability To Code Once and Deploy In Multiple Environments is a Dream for Small Teams

Meteor being hybrid in nature allowed the Fasal team to code once and deploy in multiple environments. For an early-stage startup with a very limited number of engineers (just three, to be precise), it was imperative to focus energy and resources on building features for their customers rather than managing different services or application environments.

“Meteor has out-of-the-box support for a lot of things we require.”

Fasal placed high importance on Meteor’s out-of-the-box support for authorization, authentication, role-based access systems, real-time data updates through DDP, and many other features they needed to get their minimum viable product off the ground.

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The Fasal team says another “great thing” about Meteor Framework is that it has its own Managed Cloud. So developers can deploy their applications very easily and ensure the best performance.

“Meteor, as a framework, is very flexible in nature.”

Meteor’s flexible framework meant that the Fasal team could start their application development with jQuery, Vanilla JavaScript, HTML, and CCS. As time went on, Fasal was able to easily update their tech stack to Vue + VueX + Meteor. They appreciate the flexibility to improve their app and scale as the team learns more and demand increases.

How Fasal Scaled With Meteor

As Fasal needed to scale, they searched for ways to improve their application by introducing more automation and reusable modules.

They moved their front-end architecture from the Blaze + jQuery + SCSS stack to their current VUE + Meteor + VueX stack. Then they added Storybook to their system, which enabled them to easily manage reusable components across different teams.

Fasal “constantly monitors” the performance of their database queries, then tweaks and optimizes as required. They’re also utilizing dynamic imports and modular chunks in their builds to ensure faster page loads (plus lower build packages).

The Fasal team admits they’re “very careful” about their static assets too. They keep an active watch over those files and their sizes.

Fasal On Overcoming Challenges with Meteor

According to the Fasal team, they’re a close-knit group of “immensely passionate professionals trying to solve problems every day.” They say if someone finds a problem, everyone wants to solve it ASAP.

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With innovation at the core of their company culture, the team is empowered by continuous learning and experimentation. Facing several challenges on their journey with Meteor, the Fasal crew discovered how to:

Integrate with Push Notifications. Fasal engineers learned how to leverage Raix: Push to notify farmers via Push Notification for Android so they never miss an alert. You can hear how Fasal conquered this task and maintained the repo in-house on their engineering blog.

Deep Link their Meteor application. Though they faced challenges with Deep Linking in their Meteor app, the Fasal team knew the importance of Deep Linking and worked hard to achieve it in Meteor JS. Check out their step-by-step guide (with examples!) to see how they did it next.

Overcome performance struggles. Fasal faced performance challenges when working with immense sets of users and using Pub/Sub. They resolved this by identifying places where they could reduce the usage.

Workaround Cordova plugin incompatibilities. Fasal occasionally has problems with Cordova plugins and their incompatibility with new Android versions. They fix incompatibilities by forking those for their needs.

Integrate with Storybook. Fasal became so big that they had to integrate with Storybook in order to keep reusability maintained.

All these learning opportunities have strengthened the Fasal team and primed them to tackle even bigger challenges to come.

So What’s Next for Fasal?

Fasal is on a quest to change the face of agriculture and take precision farming to the fingertips of every farmer at the lowest cost possible.

You can visit their website to learn more about Fasal and its mission (PS: they’re hiring!). You’ll also find the latest news articles, press releases, and app updates.

Want to connect with the Fasal team? You can drop them a line at: [email protected].

Ready To See How Meteor Can Help Your Team?

Meteor is an open-source framework for seamlessly building and deploying web, mobile, and desktop applications in Javascript. As we’ve seen in this case study, our customers are reaching next-level innovation the easy way with our help.

So what can Meteor do for you?

If you’re ready to find out, join the community of more than 500k developers worldwide who trust and rely on Meteor today!

How Fasal Helps Farmers Grow Smarter with Meteor was originally published in Meteor Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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