The AgTech industry has risen to new heights of renown in recent years and it’s no surprise considering the impressive pace of artificial intelligence innovation; from applications that track and manipulate crop and soil conditions, to disease-detecting software and the use of robotics to automate the most grueling and time-consuming labor tasks.
With fast approaching dooming dates and predictions like the need to feed an estimated 9.6 billion people by 2050, the trends in adopting or incorporating machine learning and computer vision technologies in agricultural practices couldn’t be more necessary.
Below you’ll find listed 25 of the most promising names in AgTech, companies that are paving the way in transforming the industry through cutting edge AI solutions that help prepare it for the greatest challenge it’s faced yet.
Plenty provides pesticide free produce by influencing plant genetics and their own Plenty OS software to grow and maintain indoor vertical farms; an agricultural method where crops are grown on top of one another, instead of in traditional, horizontal rows. The farms are designed to be sustained without natural environmental factors like sunlight.
The vertical agriculture startup was founded in 2014 and supported by a number of high-profile names in the tech industry. Softbank, Alphabet's chairman Eric Schmidt, and Amazon's Jeff Bezos, among others.
Using a mix of aerial photography and videography, Sky Squirrel Technologies operates UAV/UAS systems or drones for monitoring and maintaining crops, through irrigation planning, weed identification and applying varying rates of fertilization according to field needs.
The Nova Scotia-based company was named one of Canada's fastest growing in 2014 and received a significant Series A investment of 2 million by Cultivian Sandbox, a trusted leader in the agriculture and food production industry.
Founded by Jorge Heraud and Lee Redden in 2011, two Stanford graduate students, Blue River Technology was established to follow through on their ambition to make farming more sustainable with the use of robotics and computer vision. Notably, the startup was acquired in 2017 by agricultural machinery manufacturer John Deere.
Blue River Technology is best known for their See and Spray™ product, one powered through machine learning and attached to farming equipment like tractors, that are run through crop fields and target weeds and apply herbicide.
Based out of Colorado, Visual Farms aims to boost the profitability of farming using AI systems and a real-time ML platform designed to provide personalized support for individual farms. The company slogan and goal states exactly that, "A machine learning system on every farm because every farm is different."
Visual Farms claims that its ML systems can monitor plant activity through its entire growth cycle, from seedling until the time it's ready for harvesting. This capability is possible through knowledge and expertise in plant physiology and genetics, as well as the ideal growing conditions according to crop type.
Offering a proprietary farming operating system known as BoweryOS, this forward-thinking, AgTech company is striving to fix some of the greatest challenges farmers face in getting more yield out of their harvests, specifically, satisfying the individual needs of plants through data collection.
With a comprehensive network of sensors and cameras that feed back to their ML-based OS in real-time, farmers can monitor crop health and respond accordingly to ensure they remain in ideal condition.
In addition, the platform is meant to become progressively more capable with each grow cycle, as it analyzes more data and gains more insight on what plants require to truly thrive.
Arugga's claim to fame in the AgTech world is their bee-replicate robot, "Polly." Also referred to as a pollination robot, Polly equipped with cameras and AI-based CV technology, enabling it to recognize when flowers are ready for pollination. An air-pressure mechanism is then utilized to apply air pulses that initiate pollination; effectively mimicking the behavior or role of bumblebees.
The pollination robots are also reportedly capable of working in optimal growing conditions within greenhouses, which provide a host of benefits to farmers who are struggling with the traditional challenges of using bees; such as reducing or preventing the spread of disease and compensating for fluctuating efficiency that is influenced by temperature.
SenseGrass provides farmers with a smart solution in fertilization management and crop disease detection. The technology is described as one developed through a combination of multi-spectral cameras, aerial drone sensors, and is equipped with AI-based software.
The company highlights and focuses on a concerning statistics: that the majority of agricultural farms globally, are smaller than two acres, along with farmers not having access to technology to help monitor, analyze, and predict farm conditions to solve the most prominent agricultural issues and improve crop production.
Future Acres draws attention to the labor-intensive costs that go into producing agricultural products in the US and attribute it directly to a lack of innovation and misallocated skills.
Through their self-described autonomous harvest companion, Carry, they claim to help increase farm production efficiency by 30 percent. By offloading the weight of labor burdens on such a capable companion, farmers will be able to spend more time on skill-specific tasks to improve crop yield through planning and monitoring ripeness and maturation.
A well-respected name in acknowledgement for their ongoing contribution to the agriculture and food production in general, Trace Genomics operates an ML platform that digitizes and decodes soil using genomics.
Trace prides the capability of its platform to interpret soil environment to gain important insights on health; whist helping farmers to speed up their grow cycles and lowering costs and waste.
Small Robot Company is a start up with an ambitious mission; to revolutionize the role of technology in food production. Company founders Benn Scott Robinson, an entrepreneur working to stretch the limits of UX design and Sam Watson Jones, a fourth generation farmer, started the company based on the vision of replacing the role of tractors in field by small, highly accurate and efficient, small robots.
Using robotics and AI, the England-based tech firm claims to have developed a completely new model to achieve ecologically harmonious, efficient, and profitable farming; which they have termed as the concept of Per Plant farming.
Addressing labor shortages, climate change concerns, and food safety are the issues Monarch Tractor is tackling in its farmer-first approach to tech innovation. The company prides itself on keeping end users needs and challenges foremost in mind when developing solutions.
Specializing in autonomous electric vehicle-like tractors, Monarch's fleet leading product; the MK-V, boasts a battery runtime of over 10 hours and can be swapped out for 24-hour operation.
Targeting vegetable farmers and their struggle to meet increased crop growth costs, as well as environmental and agricultural regulatory requirements for their occupation, FarmWise offers a suite of data-driven services that store plant-level data that help drive decisions that streamline farming operations and increase food production efficiency.
FarmWise was founded in 2016, by Sebastien Boyer and Thomas Palomares, friends as well as engineers that acted on their passion on the challenge of sustainability. The duo imagined what they could do to make farming more efficient using the technology they used while working in MIT and Stanford laboratories.
Standing behind the claim and motivation of being a leader in autonomous and automated precision technology, Raven Industries poses the need for innovative solutions or technologies that take over the rigorous tasks required in traditional farming or agricultural processes.
The company provides precision agricultural products that are meant to simplify and automate farming functions to increase efficiency and profitability for their customers. Which range from driverless equipment, logistical tools, and displays.
Serving various industries, Gro Intelligence supplies a robust forecasting and analytics platform that helps agricultural teams of all sizes to make short and long-term decisions related to crop management and agriculture process efficiency.
The platform notably offers AgTech-serving features like in-season monitoring as well as climate risk assessments. Allowing growers to plan each stage of the growth cycle mindfully and in consideration of greater environmental influences or factors like food security and climate change effects.
Digital Agriculture Services, shortened to DAS, has the goal of becoming the best SaaS company to serve financial and the agri-enterprise sectors.
Described as a product-focused fintech firm, DAS promotes its cloud-based SaaS platform and associated data products as capable of providing agricultural customers with important insights to upgrade internal processes, manage risk, and fuel targeted growth efforts through the use of new data and workflows.
IoT software company Wexus Technologies Inc provides an SaaS or Cloud platform for agricultural customers to track farming equipment, specifically, applications or devices that automate labor tasks, monitor crop and field conditions, as well as help integrate renewable energy sources through their platform.
Their product is marketed as a solution that remotely accesses sensors and collects data to help simplify decisions related to choosing cost-effective utility options. By deriving insights directly from the field, the platform displays accurate reports that users can base other important choices on for reducing waste and conserving resources.
Swiss-based Gamaya is known for their development of a crop intelligence platform and multi-spectral imaging tools, such as drones equipped with hyper-spectral cameras for monitoring and enhancing farming and crop development.
Their specialized approach, particular to the use of drone and satellite imagery, delivers valuable insights for optimal crop monitoring and management. With distinct benefits to growers concentrated on crop identification, down to a physiological level. Allowing farmers to more easily and quickly detect issues such as disease, deficiencies and other problematic crop characteristics or conditions.
Tracking the location and health of livestock is just as important as crop production and management, and CattleEye is one of the best at it.
Using overhead cameras and computer vision algorithms, their surveillance systems scans both livestock and crops in RGB and near-infrared light, making it possible to identify which plants have been infected, as well as their location in the field and apply remedial measures.
Using what they describe as a harvester-mounted LIDAR system that enables a 360° 3-dimensional view of fields, Harvest CROO Robotics boasts a more precise level of navigation for harvesting robots or applications.
Harvest CROO's software is said to be designed from the ground up to provide farm workers with data that helps them make informed business decisions. In part by a suite of convenient web and mobile applications that provide monitoring and control of harvesters.
Catagorized as a data management company, aWhere gained recognition for their web-based location intelligence program that specifically benefits agricultural practitioners.
The platform and its visualization and data analysis tools help farmers better manage risk and make evidence-based decisions that are supported by historical, current, and forecasted weather data and alerts.
With apples at the figurative core of Abundant Robotics' business strategy and product portfolio, the company is uniquely positioned to make a difference for their target customers; farmers who know the pains of labor-intensive apple harvesting processes.
Abundant casts a light on those pains and showcases the demand of easing them through automated solutions, which it's robotic platform, combining CV and ML to identify and pick the best apples, delivers on.
Ibex Automation Ltd focuses on the development of autonomous agricultural robot systems, including precision weed detection and spraying in grassland in particular. The company was established after a successful InnovateUK project that showcased a prototype based on their technology.
Ibex continues to work on the prototype they introduced through collaborative R&D with the goal of eventually approving it for production and real-world use.
Founded in 2018, agricultural robotics start up Carbon Robotics specializes in “laserweeding” solutions that leverage AI technology to improve crop quality and aim to create safer working conditions for farmers, as well as reducing costs that are associated with modern farming practices.
In April of 2021, Carbon introduced its first product, the Autonomous LaserWeeder. Later that year in September, they closed their Series B funding round with $27M and released a new LaserWeeder implement in Februrary of 2022.
"Think Roomba for rocks," is how TerraClear describes their fully automated robotic solution, capable of picking up 400 rocks per hour.
Why rocks? Besides the fact that they're big and have the annoying knack for getting stuck in expensive farming machinery - it's simply yet another task that would greatly benefit from being automated. Not unlike the concept of crop picking, spraying, weeding, or any general field tending needs, rocks still pose a challenge for farmworkers.
Through their custom and proprietary CropOS® technology, Benson Hill claims to have "unlocked the genetic diversity of plants" to increase key attributes while assuring farmers of maintaining healthy yields.
Data science is the foundation of Benson's CropOS® and Cloud Biology® products. Developed using AI and ML techniques and merged with scientific processes or biology; is promised to accelerate crop breeding and enable greater precision and fewer breeding cycles. In other words, claiming to take the guesswork out of getting real results out of farming.
The cultivation of food and other products that are produced through farming are central to any and all global economies. With population growth on the rise and food demand in turn, the AgTech companies featured in this article are playing a critical role in developing AI systems that make meeting those demands possible. Although these innovations have been found to fulfill the needs of traditional agricultural practices, if not replace them altogether, the new approaches still face challenges collectively.
Data is difficult to consolidate due to the changing seasons and transitional data findings, the fact that many farmers are still unfamiliar with the use of AI and require time and guidance to seriously consider adoption, and one of the most challenging; that ML models should be designed to withstand unpredictable environmental conditions.
As the technologies that were cited in this article are more widely employed by the agriculture industry, and even more farming applications introduced in the future, many likely inspired by those paving the way; solutions will naturally emerge for the challenges any revolutionary movement faces.