HYBRID EVENT: You can participate in person at Valencia, Spain or Virtually from your home or work.
September 11-13, 2023 | Valencia, Spain
FAT 2022

Mark F DeSantis

Mark F DeSantis, Speaker at Food Technology Conference 2022
Bloomfield Robotics & Carnegie Mellon University, United States
Title : Deep learning and grapes: the digitalization of plants, one plant at a time


Since the dawn of agriculture, crop monitoring and inspection remains a mainstay of every farmer’s routine. Today, many farmers visually inspect their crops armed with a variety of tools to help ensure ideal plant health and performance. Although human visual inspection remains an essential part of agriculture, it has many challenges and many limitations. Research over the last decade or so has assessed the applicability of computer vision and deep learning to address the crop inspection challenge. These approaches have shown tremendous promise, they are only just now beginning to go beyond the research phase into commercialization. Around 2015, image processing methods using deep neural networks began to replace the earlier classical computer vision approach, providing both better performance and more generalizable results. Again, through the early work of the CMU team, a StalkNet architecture was developed, which combines an RCNN feature detector with a GAN based pixel segmentation.
To date, StalkNet has been trained to measure dozens of widely varying features in different crops, ranging from leaf necrosis to fruit ripeness to sorghum seed size for grain yield. Bloomfield currently services 16 wine, table and juice grape vineyards in three countries (i.e., US, France & Italy) as well as a blueberry grow in Peru.. Flash combines high-resolution flash lighted stereo RGB images with a cloud-based deep learning pipeline to inspect and assess the health and performance of each and every plant in a field or grow, one plant at a time. The result, so far, with Bloomfield’s vineyard customers is yield estimation, pest/disease detection, labor saving and digitalization. This comprehensive analysis forms the foundation for Bloomfield’s health and performance assessment of each geo-located plant, one plant at a time through a web-based dashboard accessible via tablet, cellphone or computer. Bloomfield’s approach to inspecting and assessing plants contrasts sharply with the visual inspection which includes sparse subjective judgements of randomly sampled plant


Mark is the CEO of Bloomfield, a venture-backed AI company in agriculture. He was previously cofounder and CEO of RoadBotics, a venture-backed AI company assessing roadway infrastructure. He was also previously cofounder and Chairman of kWantix, a quant energy hedge fund, and cofounder and CEO of kWantera, a venture-backed energy trading company. Previously, he was CEO of Think Through Learning, a venture-backed online tutoring company and US Managing Director of ANGLE Technology, PLC, a UK-based venture capital firm. Mark is an Adviser to MIR Ventures in Palo Alto and Cascadia Capital in Seattle. He also has dual appointment as an Adjunct Professor at the College of Engineering and Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University. Mark holds a PhD in Public Policy from the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University and is completing a Doctorate in Business Administration at the Fox School of Business at Temple University.