Global food production will have to increase to match a growing population, but with available land declining, the old ways won’t meet that demand. Here are my top 10 innovators, using modern technology to revolutionise the world of agriculture.
Over the next 30 years, it’s reckoned that global food production will need to increase by a cool forty per cent. Yet the amount of arable land available is declining – so simply planting, growing and cultivating using the same old techniques won’t cut it.
As an investor focused on the potential of disruptive technologies, I’ve been closely following developments in ‘Agritech’ – a sector that offers a unique opportunity for technological developments to drive progress within a traditional industry. There are hundreds of startups making waves in the area, and I’ve identified ten of the most exciting young companies using artificial intelligence and biological technology to solve the problems facing agriculture today to prepare for the world of tomorrow.
Agro.Club is a digital platform, linking all levels of the supply chain to monitor grain prices with automated logistics, for them to obtain analytics, trade grain, receive weather forecasts and share best practice with other farmers. The Agro.Club allows data driven conversations and decisions to be made across the food system.
Autonomous Pivot is transforming centre-point irrigation systems into ones powered by an AI robotic platform to improve yield, without disturbing the soil. The irrigation systems are equipped with sensors and cameras to provide growers with a complete picture of their soil that autonomously maximises crop yields and saves water.
Bloomfield Robotics monitors every single plant within a field and maximises their individual potential. Through photographs of each plant, they can deliver crop assessments using cloud-based deep learning to assess key plant features.
Botanical Solution Inc has created a research and development platform for sustainable and improved production of Advanced Botanical Materials (ABM). They base their work on plant tissue culture, and their first ABM fuels their biological pesticide Botristop.
Cloud Agronomics has created one of the world’s largest ground-validated datasets for agriculture based on machine learning, and hyperspectral imaging. The portal offers data on time, geography and analytic layers for growers to gain a comprehensive understanding of soil and plant health.
Canadian based Cotex Technologies have created a biodegradable coating technology for seeds and fertilisers, which produces a superior quality polymer coated product at a 30 to 70 per cent lower cost than the competition. The coating technology offers an environmentally friendly solution and then artificial intelligence takes over, releasing just the right amount at the right time.
In response to a move away from synthetic herbicides Crop Zone has created a two-part alternative to traditional crop management systems. Their VOLT.APPLY system can be attached to any tractor to apply liquid and an electric current, to a field, which provides equal, if not better, results to synthetic herbicides.
Nanomik offers a biological alternative to synthetic pesticides, through their patented microencapsulation technology, which is released slowly and triggered where there is a pH change on the plant. This works pre- and post-harvest, and has doubled the shelf life of peaches, grapes, and citrus fruits.
Germany based SmartCloudFarming GmBH have created 3D Soil Maps to provide farmers and growers the information they need about the soil. This works up to 30cm deep, with measurements taken every 30 metres. They can do so though using satellite imagery and advanced machine learning.
SOIL CARBON CO
Soil Carbon Co works to create products to sequester carbon with microbial seed treatments, offering solutions for farmers, investors, and the environment. They are working to create microbial fungi and bacteria which support the crop’s growth and rapidly build stable forms of soil organic carbon.
It’s impossible not to get excited about the future of these companies, which could prove so transformative in a sector that we all, of course, rely on in so many ways. The end goal of a sustainable food system and affordable, nutritious food for all is also one that I, not just as an investor, cannot ignore.