The Growth of Agriculture Solutions Providers
Traditional agricultural practices alone cannot meet the growing demand for food. The world’s population will reach a staggering 10 billion by 2050, with global food production expected to double to feed the population. As a result, the agriculture industry can no longer rely on the same techniques they have been using for 60 years to guarantee food security. Agriculture solutions providers are working with the scientific community to leverage tech advancements from other industries to create game-changing innovations in all aspects of farming. Advances include using AI, drones, agricultural robots, predictive analytics, and precision ag to generate a new model of smart farming operations.
Bringing the science of artificial intelligence to agriculture means that growers can find solutions to the most significant challenges they face, from rising input costs and plant diseases to unpredictable weather events.
Food production efficiency and sustainability models have captured the attention of farmers, entrepreneurs, and developers. As a result, new companies and funding resources are sprouting daily to tackle these challenges. Here’s a look at the annual list of top technology solutions expected to impact agricultural practices in 2022.
AgTech Funding & Investment
Investors see the benefits of AI in agriculture even if they have little to no on-farm experience. As a result, they are pouring money into agriculture technology ranging from artificial intelligence to cloud-based systems to support agricultural practices that are sustainable and profitable for farmers.
Consider this: according to Crunchbase—2021 was a record-breaking year of investment in agriculture solutions providers. Nearly $5 billion across 440 funding deals. That was a $1.7 million increase over 2020 investments, reported the platform that collects and provides information about private and public companies.
Based on the report, these four companies alone secured a quarter-billion dollars or more in funding:
- Pivot Bio. This agtech company based in Berkely, California, is replacing synthetic nitrogen with microbes produced through fermentation to pull nitrogen from the air for the plants to use. In July 2021, the startup raised Series D funds totaling $430 million.
- Nature’s Fynd secured $350 million in Series C funds. The Chicago company has developed a protein from fungi and is growing plant-based protein with fermentation technology.
- Agtech eCommerce platform Farm Business Network secured Series G funds worth $300 million Series G in November. The San Carlos, the California-based company, collects and shares agronomic precision data to bolster farmer buying power.
- Apeel Sciences raised $250 million in Series E funds. The Goleta, California-based business has developed a plant-based coating that extends its shelf-life when applied to fruits and vegetables.
Equipment + Data Collection for Precision Agriculture
In this era of “Ag 2.0,” technology solutions provide real-time, precision data farmers can use to make crop management decisions.
While the agriculture technology companies that closed the highest venture capital funding were not directly tied to agriculture production, game-changing Innovations include equipment and software designed for in-field use to improve crop yields.
On land, smart machines range from sensors that monitor soil moisture to robotic tractors and seeding machines. For example, John Deere announced its first fully autonomous tractor. In addition, German Ag brand ***Fendt has developed a low Co2, low energy Xaver field seeding robot.
By air, a drone or satellite can collect data on various environmental factors farmers can use to make management decisions, requiring less water and chemical inputs while optimizing yields.
The hardware combined with artificial intelligence can help farmers complete labor-intensive tasks despite labor shortages.
In February, SVG Ventures | THRIVE released its annual list of top AgriTech brands to watch for 2022 and highlighted five companies specializing in robotics and automation.
Their picks include:
- Advanced Farm Technologies, located in Davis, California, is the first to design a robotic harvester for strawberries with plans to make adaptations for apple crops. In late 2021, the company completed a series B investment round, raising $25 million.
- Blue White Robotics is an autonomous platform that allows farmers to operate and manage a fleet of autonomous vehicles, including drones, robots, or tractors. The Israel-based company also has a conversion kit that turns any conventional tractor into a self-driving tractor.
- FJ Dynamics makes animal husbandry sensors and an auto-steering kit compatible with multiple farm machinery brands. The Chinese company claims to operate research and development centers in China, Sweden, and the Netherlands.
- Monarch Tractors, based in Livermore, California, is also included in the list in recognition of its 100% electric “driver optional data-driven” tractor.
The possibilities for improving farming in the future are virtually limitless, and that excites farmers and investors alike. Moreover, a growing need for food produced sustainably and amid labor shortages makes experts believe that technology can make agriculture safer, more efficient, and more precise in using critical resources.
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