Among the many innovations in the agricultural sector, there are some especially fascinating case studies in biologicals, automation and drones. Read about some of the seedsprint technologies and startups that are defining the future of this vital industry.
Spotlight: Biologicals for Agriculture
Biologicals are a unique group of crop protection and fertilizer products. Unlike traditional herbicides and fertilizes, biologicals are naturally occurring substances that act as pesticides, herbicides, and biostimulants.
TechCrunch reports that consumer pressures are among the factors encouraging enterprise companies in the agriculture space to explore naturally occurring solutions for crop management. There are two main types of biologicals: microbials (living organisms) and biochemicals (naturally occurring compounds.)
At the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, researchers have devised a new means of controlling plant mites and powdery mildew with fungi. By applying the fungi to growing crops, it turns out that it’s possible to increase yields for cucumber, grapes and citrus without the use of chemicals.
The university’s commercialization team, Yissum, sizes the market for such fungal microbials at $128 million. (Make a seedsprint accountto message Yissum and other universities.)
Mutually beneficial interactions between plants occur often in nature, such as mycorrhizae fungi that live near root systems and help plants absorb nutrients. Engineering new relationships is tricky, but might save some heartache in the ERA of conscious consumption.
Spotlight: Automation, Robotics and Drones
Enter agtech startup AGROBOT. The eponymous autonomous machine is designed for one task: picking strawberries. AGROBOT rolls through a strawberry field, straddling multiple rows, sensing strawberries and picking them with tiny clippers. While the rapid, dexterous strawberry-picking done by humans can’t be replicated exactly, AGROBOT is getting closer and closer to human abilities.
Robotics companies can also tackle the problem of crop protection. Startup Blue River creates robots that use advanced sensors, computer vision, and machine learning technology to rapidly assess the needs of individual plants and spray them with herbicides. This approach can reduce the overall volume of herbicides that needs to be sprayed in a given field.
(You can reach out to AGROBOT and Blue River directly on seedsprint.)
Far above ground level, drones are also finding their niche in agriculture. Potential agtech applications include mapping vegetation and elevation (Thanos), multispectral image analysis (Airinov), and crop analysis (American Robotics).
Agtech robotics is promising because advanced in machine learning and robotics are often complimentary. This means that larger companies with the budget for acquisition may decide to mix and match startups and technologies – yielding the ultimate the ultimate smart agriculture solution.
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