FieldIn AgTech startup grabs $4M in new funding

Fieldin, an end-to-end pest management software using sensors to automatically record field data to make any tractor smart raised $ 4M in new funding. The round was co-lead by Gal Ventures and Germin8 Ventures.

Record and organize notes automatically on a native mobile app synced to the cloud.

Fieldin operates in the AgPest (Agricultural Pesticide) market and monitors pesticide and sprays used by professional specialty crop farmers. Designed essentially for perennial crops and primarily aimed towards for orchard, grove and vineyard growers.

The startup uses its sensor-based device appended to tractors to provide real-time speed, location, coverage and efficiency logs. It then uses the data to recommend spray methods and routine helping to correct spraying mistakes. The cloud-based software of Fieldin can be used to gain a situational view of pest levels, spray history and hotspots.

Performance reports summarizing activity trends and patterns

One of the key factors that are helping Fieldin gain a leg up over its competitors is the number of ‘sprayed acres’ it has monitored over the past two years (which according to the startup’s own estimate equals 1 million). This has helped the startup create a vast ‘AgPest Dataset’.

“Our AgPest dataset has reached a critical-mass coverage that enables us to provide unique insights on crops, chemicals, and geographies. We started our initial activities in Israel and expect to cover over 40 percent of the citrus and vine markets in 2018. Fieldin is rapidly expanding to the US, Europe and Africa, and has landed major contracts with some of the biggest names in the industry.”
Boaz Bachar, Founder and CEO of FieldIn.

There’s been an uptick in the number of AgTech startups using a combination of hardware and software to provide farm data. Farmobile that raised a $ 18.1M Series B in Nov last year also uses a small device called PUC that installs on farm machinery. It then collects data wirelessly and relays to its cloud platform where it uses analytics to help farmers take corrective actions.

Similarly, the Australian startup The Yield raised $ 6.5M Series A funding in April last year where by the startup provides on-farm sensors and hardware with an advanced data analytics platform for farmers to improve crop yield and reduce weather-related uncertainty.


Postscapes: Tracking the Internet of Things

IoT Ag-Tech company Farmobile snaps $18.1M Series B

Farmobile, an Agtech company that collects farm data via its hardware and software solution raised a $ 18.1M Series B round this week. Notable investors that participated in the funding round include Dutch Agtech venture capital firm Anterra Capital, crop insurance provider AmTrust Agriculture Insurance Services and private investors in Kansas City.

Farmobile PUC

The startup, co-founded by Jason Tatge, Heath Gerlock, and Randy Nuss previously raised $ 5.5M Series A in Dec 2015 from Anterra Capital. The latest round brings Farmobile’s total equity funding to $ 23.6M since it launched in 2013.

The IoT component of the Farmobile solution is a small device called PUC that installs on farm machinery. The system uses PUC to listen and wirelessly send machine data to a cloud-based Farmobile account. The PUC implement plugs into the ISOBUS of the tractor, or straight back into the terminal. These data collected from the farm is called EFR, or simply put Electronic Field Record. EFRs can then be shared with 3rd parties via Farmobile’s cloud-based dashboard.

Farmers can take corrective actions based as the system allows 3rd parties to remotely upload prescription and documentation files and directly transfer them to machines and operators for immediate use.

The latest round of funding by Farmobile is by far one of the biggest that Agtech startups have raised this year. The Yield, an Australian Agtech startup closed $ 6.5M Series A round in April this year followed by Agtech startup Freight Farms that closed $ 7.3M Series B the following month.

As the Agtech market heats up, IoT-based smart farming startups are battling for customers and investment dollars. View our smart agriculture resource page filter and discover IoT agriculture resources.


Postscapes: Tracking the Internet of Things

Ag-tech IoT startup scores $15M Series B

Prospera, an IoT-based digital farming startup has closed a $ 15M Series B round that was led by Qualcomm Ventures. Cisco Investments, ICV and returning investor Bessemer Venture Partners also participated in the round.

Prospera monitors crops with a camera and sensor hardware system. It then sends half-a-million daily readings to its cloud-based servers and presents actionable information on its analytics engine accessible via desktop and mobile app.

Technologies used in the solution include advanced data analytics, computer vision, and artificial intelligence to crunch vast amount of crop data. The technology best suits the production of large-scale high-value crops.

Prospera Analytics

A key aspect of Prospera’s ag-tech solution is that farmers use it for a variety of purposes, including optimal variety allocation, planting & harvest planning, inputs selection, and crop yield forecasting.

Additionally, Operation managers of large farms use Prospera to manage farm workers. This module includes digital tools to assign tasks to laborers and monitor performance in real-time. Prospera’s customers also include produce growers for Walmart, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Aldi retail stores.

Prospera operates in Europe, Mexico, and the U.S. “While the Agriculture industry has been somewhat slow to adopt information technologies, it is now closing the gap with state-of- the-art data processing tools, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. We’re excited to lead this paradigm shift,” said Daniel Koppel, Co-Founder, and CEO at Prospera.

Smart farming companies have continued attracting venture investments. Freight Farms, an in-door AgTech startup raised $ 7.3M in a Series B round last month, and an Australian digital farming startup named The Yield with a solution built on top of Microsoft Azure raised $ 6.5M in April 2017.


Postscapes: Tracking the Internet of Things

Agtech IoT startup Freight Farms raises $7.3M Series B

Freight Farms, a Boston-based micro-farm startup that builds automated farm systems in shipping containers closed $ 7.3M in Series B funding. The latest round was led by Spark Capital.

The SEC documents for the funding round, filed on April 4, 2017, show that the startup’s total equity funding currently exceeds $ 12M.

Freight Farm Containers

Led by Jonathan Friedman and Brad McNamara as co-founders of the company, the connected micro-farm is used to grow a variety of lettuces, herbs, and other greens. The freight container uses an automated watering and fertilizing technology. The two integrated products of the startup are a leafy green machine and FarmHand, a mobile-app based personal farm assistant.

The leafy green machine is a micro-farm built entirely inside a 40’ x 8’ x 9.5’ shipping container outfitted with temperature, pH and EC sensors and controls, LED light strips, a closed loop hydroponic system, and a touchscreen dashboard.

The ‘things’ of this micro-farm are internet connected with remote access through the mobile app or a web browser. Farmers can control temperature, humidity, CO2, nutrients and pH levels inside their farm from their iOS device or web browser. Real-time data from sensors and in-farm cameras allows farmers to track a farm’s climate conditions and set parameters for ideal growing conditions.

App

View our smart agriculture resource page for more companies battling in this market.


Postscapes: Tracking the Internet of Things

How hard is it to bring precision analytics to agtech?

Arable-Mark-sensor

On first thought, agtech seems something of a contradiction. Agriculture involves growing crops. There’s no real world shortcut or fast track in that plants require planting in appropriate seasons with access to sun, water and soil nutrients and time to grow. By comparison, tech is about speed, rapid prototyping and timely deployment.

But agtech is actually an evolving nexus between the two practices of agriculture and next-generation connected tech.

See also: Platagon partners with Dubai university to create urban agriculture center

Agriculture is an industry that, while rooted firmly in traditions passed down through generations of farmers, is responding to technical advances in machines, robotics, analytics and software. One of the companies at the forefront of this revolution is Arable Labs. Headed by CEO Dr Adam Wolf, their team includes product engineers, biologists, and mathematicians and they work to solve the critical issue of accurate forecasting in the food supply chain.

I spoke to Dr. Wolf to learn more about their progress over the last year. The company had the evening before, come runner-up at a competition by water innovation accelerator, Imagine H20. Arable have previously worked with the Met service for Zambia, to facilitate weather monitoring as well as the New York City Parks Service for assistance with weather tracking for storm management so they are well placed to apply their technology to water technology.

But their biggest success of late is a $ 4.25 million Series A round of funding led by Middleland Capital’s agriculture technology fund and S2G Ventures. With the new funds, the company will support the expansion of data science and analytics for the food and ag supply chain, fuelled by mass production of the Arable Mark IoT device (formerly known as PulsePod) later this year.

“We have really outstanding investors who understand the space. They are well connected, they know people who are either out ahead in growing, processing or retailing. When you’re in food and agriculture it’s a real secret world that is far enough from most people’s lived experience that it’s hard to really discern what the pain points are who gets what margin,” explained Wolf.

“It’s important for us to be really focused on supply chain risk, which is the relationship between the producer and the processor and from the processor to the retailer. To understand how those contracts between those parties are structured and what’s the risk of failure. For example, what happens when a restaurant chain asks for so much cilantro and but then the farmer delivers half as much as they promised. This happens all the time. And so for someone to be able to get the people in the room and go, ok let’s get some conversation going. Well, that is very powerful. That’s where we’re fortunate to have these investors.”

The Arable Mark delivers a level of plant health data that is unmatched in the industry. The Mark measures more dimensions of physical meteorology, at greater spatial density than any weather model or station network, and more plant attributes, at a greater frequency than any satellite or aircraft. By measuring over 40 individual environmental data streams, the Mark is the most data-rich device available in IoT.

The Mark’s launch coincides with the all-new cloud-based Arable Insights software platform for crop consultants, farmers, large-scale producers, and food processors in the agricultural supply chain. Insights enable each stakeholder to communicate with trusted business partners based on real-time field-level data for the first time ever. It is now possible for managers to benchmark crop performance and seasonal progress across hundreds of fields, while also being able to drill down and understand the details of growth or weather events.  The data synthesis of weather and crop growth enables Arable to predict timing, quality perishability, and yield.

“When we think of our business model as hardware-enabled software as a service where the data from the hardware enables an array of different services. What we’ve learned is that data from the field is like a well from which many people can drink” notes Wolf.

 

arable (1)

 

How big is automation in farming?

The general public tends to have a highly romantic image of farmers as salt of the earth folk who eschew the conveniences of modern technology for the simple life. But the reality is that farmers are hacking their tractors, drones are being deployed for crop surveying, and a farmer is more likely to consult a data platform than an almanac before sowing crops. Wolf explained that one of the values their company promoted was customer service:

“The initial vision that we had was to treat the farmers with more respect, with good design and price, and it will reward us later.”

A 2012 Agriculture Census revealed that during the past 30 years the average age of U.S. farmers has grown by nearly eight years, from 50.5 years to 58.3 years. Does this mean that people will be replaced by robots? Wolf counters this with the comment:

“Someone who is growing 35,000 acres of leafy greens to deliver it to restaurants, you want that person to be really good and consistent at it. They really have figured out how to grow it at scale and deliver safe affordable food on time.

But young people don’t want to go into low-paid jobs. In places with year-round production, there’s a lot of families, but the children of the Latino workers are going to college, they’re studying software engineering, they don’t want to work in the fields. So the farms have real concerns about maintaining the workforce that they already have and capturing the institutional knowledge of older generations. There is a tendency towards consolidation. So then that team is stuck with managing an ever more sprawling field.

We’re definitely not displacing people in what we do, we’re empowering people with productivity. By being able to automate data collection, people get better jobs. People can prioritize and plan where to put their focus.”

The company will begin shipping the Mark this spring and make it more widely available through distributors later this year.

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