Agritech: List of Top 11 Tech Startups in Agriculture Sector
- 11 August 2020 | 172 Views | By Abhinav Mishra
Today the world population is 7.8 billion and it is expected to increase to 9 billion by 2050. This means the global food production has to increase by 70% to ensure everyone gets sufficient food on their plate – United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation. Today, the world agriculture industry faces a lot of challenges – the production cost is getting higher and at the same time, there is a labor shortage. Other problems in the agriculture industry are food waste, land management inefficiencies, and disconnected consumers and farmers.
How has technology changed farming?
Farms and farming both have completely changed in the past 50 years, all because of the technology. How?
Crop breeding – The breeding methods have changed and modern methods include marker-assisted breeding, which helps speed up the time it takes to get the desired improvement, and genetic engineering (GE). GE technology makes plants more insect resistant, herbicide-tolerant, drought-tolerant, and disease resistant. It also gives farmers an additional tool to help increase crop yields.
Labor and mechanization – The farm equipments used have vastly improved which has helped farmers a lot. Tractors, planters, and irrigation tools are much more efficient now. The technologies have enabled farmers to produce more with less labor.
Specialization – Farming today is even more specialized. Specializing enables farmers to acquire the facilities, knowledge, technology, and skills needed to produce the chosen crop and produce it well.
What is the meaning of Agritech?
Agritech is a short form of agricultural technology which is the use of technology in agriculture, aquaculture, and horticulture which aim to improve efficiency, yield, and profitability. Agritech could be the use of robots in the farms to replace manual labor for planting or even picking up crops. It can also be the use of machine learning, AI, and big data to understand more about the soil.
Why is Agritech important?
As mentioned, the demand for food is growing to increase with time and unless technology-based startups come in the agriculture industry, it will be difficult to meet the demands. Agritech is important for below reasons:
Grants and funds are increasing – With more financing opportunities from both private companies and the government, it is becoming easier to initiate new agricultural-related businesses for the betterment.
Reducing the distance – Agritech companies allow farmers to grow crops near to the urban areas or transport them faster which saves a lot of transportation costs and also ensures consumers receive fresh food.
Healthier food – Agritech companies are able to assess the profile of the soil, help farmers in proper water management which results in healthy food.
Why is innovation important for agriculture?
Innovation is the need of the hour in every industry. With limited natural resources and increasing demand, innovation plays a very important role to make sure we don’t run out of resources and we make the best use of what we have. For agriculture, we have many good reasons to embrace innovation. Innovation in agriculture will help feed the growing population, will improve the quality of natural resources, and help farmers make the most of their efforts in producing crops.
In this article, we are going to cover some agritech startups trying to make the difference.
It is a US-based company that started in 2016. They work in creating new possibilities for plant protection product developers, crop breeders, crop scientists, and field agronomists. They have created a robot named TerraSentia, which improves the accuracy, quality, cost, and speed of in-field plant trait data collection which is difficult to obtain using other technologies. TerraSentia uses a combination of sensors—including visual cameras, GPS, LIDAR, and other on-board sensors—to autonomously collect data on traits for plant physiology, health, and stress response.
Indigo helps farmers increase their profitability and enrich their soil by providing microbial seed treatments, in-depth agronomic support, and other resources that optimize regenerative systems. Indigo’s innovative agronomic services and tools are part of ‘Indigo Acres’ that supports farmers pursuing more regenerative farming practices with two tiers of increasing agronomic support and complementary digital and in-field tools.
The company created the world’s first digital drone crop sprayer that delivers on-demand pesticides and fertilizers over the farmers’ fields without any human intervention. The drone is capable to process up to 1200 acres of field per day autonomously meeting all safety requirements. This can reduce the cost by one-tenth as farmers will need less fuel, maintenance, and less staff. The farmers will have to only spend time in tan refills and battery charges, the remaining time which is approximately 85% can be used for other work.
There are some countries where finding farm workers is a big challenge. One such country is Australia. AgDraft is a LinkedIn for the farming world – it is an online platform connecting agriculture workers and farmers. The platform lets farmers post jobs for various on-going farm activities. Agriculture workers can find jobs by creating their profile by listing their experience levels and skills. Once the job is completed, the farmers can also rate or review workers.
It uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to provide automated and precise harvest yield forecasts for hydroponic, commercial greenhouses. This tool equips farmers with software tools to gain better capacities to control, monitor, and predict the future yields of their harvests. The tool acquires data from the existing system, develops an algorithm based on historical data and then predicts yield 1, 2, and 3 weeks ahead of time.
The company connects the world’s food supply chain. More than 7,000 food companies around the world depend on FoodLogIQ’s supply chain analytics to ensure their products are safe to consume. They have built a solution that specializes in Supplier Management, Quality Incident Management, Food Safety Compliance, Recall Management, and Whole Chain Traceability. FoodLogIQ also uses a blockchain that enhances its traceability technology.
Which are the best agritech startups in India?
Bombay Hemp Company started in 2013 to re-imagine the future of Indian agriculture and sustainable living with hemp as their lens. The company assists local farmers in cultivating the crop by providing optimum seeds, innovative Agro-products, and best practices in cultivation techniques. They organize farmers for the collection and distribution of fiber (for textiles) and hemp seeds (for food). They also engage with rural stakeholders and local vendors to source the hemp leaf for its utilization to develop proprietary Ayurvedic medicine formulations.
Aquaconnect uses remote sensing and AI technologies to assist fish and shrimp farmers to improve efficiency and farming revenue. They have a mobile app, FarmMOJO, which acts as a farmer advisor and provide them content specific suggestion. The app works in multiple local languages and alert farmers of rough weather. This helps farmers make decisions to feed consumption patterns, improve water quality parameters, and health management of the inventory. Based on the data intelligence, FarmMOJO also connects the farmers with the upstream (hatcheries, farm equipment manufacturers, feed producers, lenders, insurers) and downstream of the supply chain (exporters, processors, and certifying bodies).
Fasal has an AI-powered IoT-SaaS platform for horticulture. It captures real-time data on growing conditions from the sensors installed in farms and delivers farm-specific / crop-specific actionable advice to farmers in their mobile app in regional languages. The sensors can measure multiple dynamic variables including soil, crop conditions, and micro-climate. Using this data and machine learning, the app is able to make farm level predictions, anticipating various risks while helping horticulture farmers optimize crop protection, reduce input costs, irrigation, and crop nutrition.
Freshokartz solves the problem of middleman in the supply chain for input material. It provides analytics to farmers based on soil tests, financial data, and past crop history. It operates physical centers in the villages to provide farm advisory, deliver quality pesticides, seeds, and fertilizers to the farmer’s doorstep. Freshokartz works on the main concern area of Indian farmers, they connect farmers with the market and helps them to get a better price for their produce.
CropIn is an intelligent, intuitive, self-evolving system that delivers future-ready farming solutions to the entire agricultural sector. They create and deliver decision-making tools that bring dependability, consistency, and sustainability to agri-businesses. With capabilities of analysis, live reporting, interpretation, and insight that span across geographies, they aim to digitize every farm and data-managing the entire ecosystem. CropIn enables its clients to interpret and to analyze data to derive real-time actionable insights on standing crops, thus enabling businesses to utilize technology to effectively drive their initiatives around Compliance, Sustainability, Digitization, and Traceability.
What is the latest technology in agriculture?
You don’t need to be an expert to know that technology has completely changed the face of agriculture in most parts of the world. Name any mainstream technology and it has been applied in agriculture now – big data, machine learning, AI, etc. Some of the latest additions of technology in agriculture are:
- GIS software and GPS agriculture
- Satellite imagery
- Drone and other aerial imagery
- Farming software and online data
- Merging datasets
What is the future of farming?
A report called Agriculture 4.0 – The Future of Farming Technology was launched by the World Government Summit in 2018. The report highlights the future of agriculture. The report states that farms and agricultural operations will have to be run very differently as we make further advancements in technology by the usage of sensors, machines, devices, and information technology. Future agriculture will use sophisticated technologies such as robots, moisture and temperature sensors, aerial images, and GPS technology. These advanced devices and precision agriculture and robotic systems will allow farms to be more profitable, safe, efficient, and environmentally friendly.