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AgTech FoodTech

Attractive opportunities in Artificial Intelligence in Agriculture Market

Agriculture and farming is one of the oldest and most important professions in the world. Humanity has come a long way over the millennia in how we farm and grow crops with the introduction of various technologies. By 2050, the planet’s population is likely to rise to 9.7 billion, a rise of 2 billion from now. Along with increase in population, there is a substantial increase in the lifestyle. Those people will not only need to eat, they will want to eat better than people do now, because of higher incomes. However, only 4% additional land will come under cultivation by then.

In this context, use of latest technological solutions to make farming more efficient, remains one of the greatest imperatives. Farming is becoming a branch of matrix algebra. Farm operations involve a set of variables, such as the weather, soil’s moisture levels and nutrient content, competition to crops from weeds, threats to their health from pests and diseases, and the costs of taking action to deal with these things. If the algebra is done correctly, the yield gets optimised resulting in maximization of profit.

Agriculture is seeing rapid adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) both in terms of agricultural products and in-field farming techniques. While Artificial Intelligence (AI) sees a lot of direct application across sectors, it can also bring a paradigm shift in how we see farming today. The industry is turning to AI technologies to help yield healthier crops, control pests, monitor soil and growing conditions, organize data for farmers, help with workload, and improve a wide range of agriculture-related tasks in the entire food supply chain.

The overall AI in agriculture market is projected to grow from an estimated USD 1.0 billion in 2020 to USD 4.0 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 25.5% between 2020 and 2026. The market growth is propelled by the increasing implementation of data generation through sensors and aerial images for crops, increasing crop productivity through deep-learning technology, and government support for the adoption of modern agricultural techniques.

Markets and Markets

Recent Developments in AI in Agriculture include:

  1. South African agri-tech startup Aerobotics raised US$5.5 million in funding from Naspers Foundry. Cape Town-based Aerobotics, uses aerial imagery from drones and satellites, and blends them with machine learning algorithms. The startup’s cloud-based application Aeroview provides farmers with insights, scout mapping and other tools to mitigate damage to tree and vine crops from pest and disease.
  2. Insurance Australia Group has bought a multimillion-dollar stake in Digital Agriculture Services. Digital Agriculture Services is a rural technology company based in Melbourne. The company is applying machine learning and AI to develop rural data-powered solutions that transform the way rural assets are assessed, valued and monitored.
  3. Yanmar R&D Europe, with its European research facility based in Florence, Italy, focuses on a variety of field-based studies to bring added value to the agriculture industry. This include the two-year, four-million Euros ‘SMASH’ (Smart Machine for Agricultural Solutions Hightech) project being carried out in cooperation with 10 technology partners to develop a mobile agricultural ‘eco-system’ to monitor, analyse and manage agricultural crops.

Some of the companies active in AI in agriculture includes International Business Machines Corp., Deere & Company, Microsoft Corporation, Farmers Edge Inc., The Climate Corporation, Descartes Labs, Inc., AgEagle Aerial Systems, aWhere Inc., Gamaya Inc., Precision Hawk Inc., Granular, Inc., Prospera Technologies, Cainthus Corporation, Taranis, Resson Inc., FarmBot Inc., Connecterra B.V., Vision Robotics Corporation, Harvest Croo, LLC, Autonomous Tractor Corporation, Trace Genomics, Inc., VineView, CropX Inc., Tule Technologies Inc., Blue River technology, FarmBot and PEAT GmbH .

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AgTech Investments

South African agri-tech startup Aerobotics raised US$5.5 million in funding from Naspers Foundry

Cape Town-based Aerobotics, uses aerial imagery from drones and satellites, and blends them with machine learning algorithms. This helps in early problem detection and offer personalised solutions to tree and wine farmers and optimise crop performance. The startup’s cloud-based application Aeroview provides farmers with insights, scout mapping and other tools to mitigate damage to tree and vine crops from pest and disease.

Food security was of paramount importance, and the Aerobotics platform provided a positive contribution towards helping to sustain it. This importance has been highlighted further in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with agriculture considered globally as critical infrastructure

Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, South Africa CEO at Naspers

Aerobotics uses drone flights to track tree health and size, using multispectral, high resolution drone imagery. This helps in identification of areas needing attention by a real time comparison with historical satellite health data, and make data driven decisions on the farm, using AI-based analytics platform. Aerobotics provide tools to make actionable decisions on the farm for

  • Orchard Management
  • Problem Tree Identification
  • Pest and Disease Management
  • Yield Management

Aerobotics has demonstrated success in the ability to collect and analyse tree and fruit-level information, which are critical to the agricultural industry. The services are very relevant to commercial-scale farmers and crop insurance companies who require accurate tree-level information about their clients.

Read more at Disrupt Africa.

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AgTech Investments

Yamaha Motor Ventures invest AUD $11 million into Australian AgTech, The Yield

The Yield Technology Solutions (“The Yield”), a leading Australian agricultural technology company, received investment of AUD $11 million, led by Yamaha Motor Ventures. Yamaha Motor Ventures is the strategic business development and investment arm of global technology organisation, Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. The Yield is developing its proprietary digital application providing microclimate data and predictive insights to support critical production decisions for large commercial growers in the specialty crops industry.

“The Yield is poised to be The Climate Corp of horticulture and we look forward to supporting the team’s strategic plan to scale its data-driven solution to the global specialty crop market.”

Yamaha Motor Ventures 

The Yield works closely with produce growers to design their products and committed to solving real challenges – at farm level and throughout the food chain. They are on a mission to transform food and farming practices by building secure, scalable digital technology. The Yield’s Sensing+ combines sensors and analytics to provide information and predictions in easy-to-use apps that help large commercial growers make important on-farm decisions like when to irrigate, feed, plant, protect and harvest.

Read more at The Yield

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AgTech Biotech

MicroGen Biotech has raised $3.8 million to ensure better food safety and soil health

MicroGen Biotech has raised $3.8 million (€3.47 million) in a funding round led by a number of top US and European agtech investors. MicroGen Biotech is an Irish biotech startup company founded in 2012 by Dr. Xuemei Germaine and a spin-out of the Institute of Technology Carlow. It utilises patented isolation and high-throughput screening methods to isolate functional, high-performance microbiomes for application in agricultural crop production and environmental remediation.

It has a large database of microbes for degrading/immobilising a range of targeted pollutants from soil and for promoting plant growth. Its proprietary microbiome technology blocks the uptake of heavy metals by crops on land that has been contaminated.

MicroGen Biotech focuses on the global market in the Agri-Cleantech sector with specific target market in China. One fifth of Chinese arable land is polluted and stressed, the country has put in place a national safe food and clean soil program to reduce heavy metals. The China Soil Pollution Control Law 2019 encourages the prioritization of bioremediation measures to prevent pollutants from entering food crops.

MicroGen Biotech focuses on three major solutions:

  1. Environmental Bioremediation: Bioremediation is a treatment process that uses microorganisms (including bacteria) and plants to degrade toxic contaminants into less toxic or non-toxic substances.
  2. Plant Growth Promotion: A critically important component of the soil/plant microbiome are Plant Growth Promoting Bacteria or PGPB. Application of PGPBs to crop plants have been shown to significantly increase crop yield when used in low input agricultural systems.
  3. Stressed Agricultural Soil: Stressed soil can be a major inhibitor of agricultural production and globally represents a considerable loss in potential crop yield. Stresses can be biotic (e.g. plant pathogens and insect pests) or abiotic (e.g drought, salinity, heavy metals).

Read more at CarlowLive

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AgTech FoodTech

Top AgTech and FoodTech Startups

AgTech and FoodTech are on the cusp of next era of productivity and environmental conservation while reducing food waste, improving carbon sequestration, improving water quality, and increasing renewable energy. Below is the glimpse of exceptional companies who are pushing the boundaries of innovation and technology.

These 100 innovative AgTech and FoodTech companies are categorised in 10 broad categories on the basis of specific problems addressed by them.

  1. Crop Nutrition, Health & Protection: AgBiome, Benson Hill Biosystems, BioConsortia, Biome Makers, Ginkgo Bioworks, Inari, Pivot Bio, Trace Genomics, ZeaKal, NewLeaf Symbiotics, Plant Response, Provivi, Semios, Terramera, Vestaron, Zymergen, Indigo Agriculture, Fieldin, Biotalys, Taranis, and TerViva.
  2. Farm Management & Forecasting: Arable Labs, Agrosmart, CropX, Growers Edge, PrecisionHawk, Resson, Solinftec, The Yield, Agworld, Bushel, CropIn, Farmer’s Business Network, Farmobile, Orbital Insight, Prospera Technologies and AgriWebb.
  3. Environmental Impact & Waste: MagGrow, Bowery, BrightFarms, Infarm, AeroFarms, Gotham Greens, Plenty, Enterra, Afresh, FoodMaven, Full Harvest, Lactips, TIPA, AgriProtein, Winnow, and WISErg.
  4. Labor: FarmWise, ecoRobotix, Robotics Plus, Bossa Nova Robotics, and Soft Robotics.
  5. Animal Nutrition & Health: Advanced Animal Diagnostics, and Stellapps.
  6. Food Quality & Safety: Ancera, Hazel Technologies, CMS Technology, Label Insight, Tastewise, Apeel Sciences, and Clear Labs.
  7. Storage, Transportation & Distribution: BluWrap, TeleSense, and Farmer’s Fridge.
  8. Traceability: FoodLogiQ, ICIX, IdentiGEN, and SafeTraces.
  9. Trade: Ninjacart, ProducePay, Brightloom, and Crowd Cow.
  10. Novel Foods & Ingredients: Good Catch, Imperfect Foods, Impossible Foods, JUST, Miyoko’s, Ripple Foods, Soylent, Sunfed meats, Clara Foods, DouxMatok, Epogee, Future Meat Technologies, Geltor, Hinoman, Innovopro, Manus Bio, Memphis Meats, MycoTechnology, Noblegen, Nuritas, Perfect Day, and Protifarm.

Source: SVG Ventures THRIVE Platform

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AgTech Protein

Insectta Receives R&D Funding to Fuel Insect Biomaterials Research

Insectta, founded in 2017, started as an insect farm focused on producing alternative proteins for animal feeds, but pivoted to the extraction of biomaterials from insects. As the first urban insect farm in Singapore rearing the black soldier fly (hermetia illucens), Insectta takes food waste and returns it into the economy as valuable biomaterials.

Trendlines Agrifood Fund, a medical and agricultural technologies focussed fund, has invested an undisclosed amount in Insectta, to fuel the work on the extraction of valuable insect-derived biomaterials.

Insectta manufactures black soldier fly chitosan, which is much purer and lower in heavy metals than conventional chitosan and have applications in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, anti-microbial food packaging, and agrotech. The company is in the midst of developing a superior black soldier fly derived animal feed additive that functions as both a protein and a probiotic.

Read more at Trendlines

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AgTech Protein

The Radicle Protein Challenge by Syngenta to Invest $1.25m

Radicle Growth, an acceleration fund, and Syngenta, a leading agriculture company announced the launch of The Radicle Protein Challenge by Syngenta to support the future of protein. Innovative protein sources are increasingly important for a growing population. Companies with novel solutions in protein industry like new protein sources or protein conversion technologies can apply. A $1m investment will be made in the Challenge winner and a $250k investment to the second-place winner. Applications are open through May 29, 2020.

Radicle Growth selects innovative ag and food tech start-ups for investment, ensuring that powerful, disruptive technologies reach their full potential, while Syngenta is a leading science-based agtech company with world-class science to protect crops and improve seeds.

Read more at BusinessWire

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AgTech

Agri-stratups overview in India

There are about 450 active agri-startups in India. They have received a venture capital funding of $545 million since 2014. This boom in the agri-startups space is creating a much needed ecosystem to bring digitisation and automation to millions of small and marginal farmers, who are suffering because of the inefficiencies of the old and bureaucratic system.

These startups or we can say the Agri Heroes, can be broadly classified in the following categories:

  1. Connecting farmers with buyers: Ninjacart, Jumbotail, Bigbasket, ShopKirana, SuperZop, WayCool, MeraKisan, Kamatan, DeHaat, KrishiHub, Agrowave, Loop, Crofarm, FreshoKartz, Agribolo, Himkara and Kisan Network.
  2. Quality assaying of agricultural commodities: Intellolabs, Agricxlab, Zense, Raav Tech, Occipital, Amvicube, AgNext and Nanopix.
  3. Addressing post harvest challenges: Our Foods, Agri Bazaar, Star Agri, Arya Collateral, Ecozen and Origo.
  4. Agricultural inputs and extension services: Agrostar, BigHaat, Behtar Zindagi, Unnati, Gramophone and Freshokartz, AgriBolo, DeHaat, Bharat Rohan and Bharat Agri.
  5. Mechanisation solutions for harvesting and sowing: Sickle innovations, Distinct Horizon, Tractor Junction, Khetibadi and J Farm.
  6. Data-driven irrigation models: Satyukt Analytics, Flybird, Kritsnam, Agrirain and Manna Irrigation.
  7. Crop monitoring solutions including credit and insurance: CropIn, SatSure, Farmguide, Niruthi, AgRisk, Skymet. Startups like Samunnati, FarMart, Jai-Kisan, PayAgri and Bijak.
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Veterinary

Modern Animal, a California startup ready to disrupt Veterinarian business

Modern Animal calls itself a new kind of veterinary clinic for animals and their humans. Steve Eidelman, founder and CEO of Modern Animal, is out to disrupt the veterinary business. Eidelman explains, “We have a system that’s broken, not supporting the consumer in a way all these other industries are. We don’t have a thriving profession”. The average clinic looks ugly, it stinks, wait times are long the staff usually isn’t friendly and the phone is ringing nonstop. The customer experience is not particularly good in a veterinary clinic, and even worse, working as a veterinarian is fraught with difficulties. That’s a threat to all animals in the long term.

Modern Animal proposes to fix all those shortcoming with its first clinic in West Hollywood. It doesn’t look like any veterinary clinic you’ve seen. The Modern Animal clinic is literally transparent, with pet owners able to see all the way from the street to the back of the clinic. Modern Animal requires a membership costing $100 a year. That membership gives the pet owner full access, including 24/7 access via telemedicine.

“Does an animal need this? No, but you do.”

Read more at Forbes

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Investments

Agtech startup that crafts “personalized seeds” for farmers, raised $45 million

Inari Agriculture, a Cambridge-based agtech startup that crafts “personalized seeds” for farmers, raised $45 million in a loan and security agreement with K2 HealthVentures (K2HV), a life sciences-focused investment firm.This round complements the $89 million the company raised in equity last August. It will be used to accelerate the development and commercialization of gene-edited crops that address the challenges of climate change and improve productivity.

Inari Agriculture unites biological and data sciences to provide scientists and farmers with new crops better suited for local environments. Its first generation of proprietary improved corn and soybeans is currently being tested in greenhouses.

Read more at BostInno