UK AgTech Firms Use AI, New Technology

More and more machines and innovative software are being used to digitize labor-intensive farming practices and optimize food production, boosting growth in agricultural technology (AgTech).

As a sign of growing investor interest, Oxford, U.K.-based agricultural technology firm Gardin recently announced it had raised $10.8 million in a seed funding round, after raising $1.2 million in pre-seed funding earlier this year.

Commenting on the funding, Gardin Founder and CEO Dr. Sumanta Talukdar said that with the technology that is becoming available, food can be better, tastier and more secure. “What’s more, the systems that provide it, if managed sustainably, can contribute to the health of our planet rather than advance its decline,” Talukdar said.

Edel Coen, head of Dealflow at U.K.-based Molten Ventures, which led the funding round, added, “There are more people, more waste and less land available than ever before: food security and sustainable food production are now enormous challenges we are experiencing on a global scale. … Gardin’s unique technology enables a step-change in how and where food can be produced.”

Launched in 2020, the London-headquartered startup aims to optimize food production, using machine learning and remote optical sensors to provide growers with data to determine plant health, instead of traditional farming methods which involve manually assessing or conducting chemical analyses that can be harmful to the produce.

For example, Gardin’s optical sensors can accurately detect abnormal growth effects caused by underwatering at a much faster rate than would have been observed through naked eye inspections.

According to a statement, the funding will be used to further expand its product lineup with crop forecasting and nutritional density mapping capabilities, while marketing the technology to greenhouses and vertical farms across Europe and North America.

Another U.K.-based AgTech firm, Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS), recently raised 42.2 million pounds in a Series B funding round, bringing its total funding to more than 52 million pounds ($68.7 million).

The Scottish startup supplies growers with sophisticated indoor vertical farming technology to enable the efficient production of food anywhere across the globe.

Read more: Mastercard Uses Blockchain To Innovate AgTech

Companies like global payments giant have also been looking to innovate AgTech and build a more inclusive and productive agricultural supply chain worldwide. In October 2020, Mastercard announced a partnership with Texas-based GrainChain that ties the company’s agricultural supply chain technology solution into Mastercard’s proprietary blockchain technology.

See also: Mastercard Launches Digital Sales Platform For Farmers

And earlier this year, PYMNTS reported on technology billionaire Bill Gates’ vision of building new “connected” smart cities and farms, using artificial intelligence (AI), geodata, resource management and other tech to optimize crop yields from every acre of land.

See: Bill Gates’ Land Grab Fuels Speculation About Smart Cities, AgTech Plans

Last year, the philanthropist announced the launch of a nonprofit, Gates Ag One, to support these efforts, as well as “speed up efforts to provide smallholder farmers in developing countries, many of whom are women, with access to the affordable tools and innovations they need to sustainably improve crop productivity and adapt to the effects of climate change.”

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Marcy Willis

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