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Smart Sensors in Farming: 10 Startups to Watch in 2018

  • 7 March 2018
  • Amanda Shiffler

Precision farming is providing invaluable tools to agricultural producers as they face the demands of providing food for an ever-increasing population with diminishing land and resources. Precision farming uses data to enhance production systems and encompasses a myriad of technologies such as GPS guided tractors, variable rate applications for fertilizers, smart irrigation, yield monitoring, and aerial data mapping. In order for these precision farming technologies to be effective and useful, they rely heavily on smart sensors to collect field and environmental data. Experts are continually refining the technology available, undoubtedly making smart sensor innovations a powerful ally for farmers. These ten companies are proving their worth in the agricultural industry.


Tule Technologies

Implementing a drastic change in mindset, Tule looks at water losses in the field instead of available water in the root zone to advise timing of irrigation schedules. It’s the only technology on the market that can measure actual evapotranspiration – the process of evaporation from plant and soil surfaces and from within plant tissues – from the field by the use of hardware installed above the plant canopy. 

Tule TechnologiesThey were named one of the Top 10 New Products at the 2016 World Ag Expo, recognizing their innovative smart irrigation technology.


Motorleaf

Started by growers in 2015, Motorleaf is revolutionizing indoor agriculture with their plug ‘n play environmental control grow system. By cutting out the wholesale distributors and selling directly to customers, they provide a much more affordable product.

Motorleaf

Their aim is to connect growers to their plants to help them grow more produce within their communities while reducing waste and increasing yields. Motorleaf can offer a complete suite of products or build solutions based on what a grower already has in place. The wireless systems are designed to work online or offline, keeping growers connected if their internet source is disrupted.


Flux IoT

Named as one of NASA’s top 25 iTech semifinalists in 2017, Flux IoT out of Dallas is the innovative genius behind Eddy, a compact robot made to turn any black thumb green. Using wireless sensors, Eddy tells growers specifics about their hydroponics and other indoor growing systems. It can monitor variables such as pH levels, temperature, and relative humidity, has the ability to detect contaminants, and provides information for how to resolve problems when they arise.

Flux IoT

What’s really neat about Eddy, though, is that growers can tell him via the app exactly what they want in their produce – calories, vitamins, flavor, appearance, etc. – and he can then steer the plant’s growth to meet such criteria through his recommendations.


Pycno

Touting the “best in class analytics platform”, Pycno offers plug ‘n play sensors and an all in one, simple dashboard to its customers. Their sensors are easy to install by the grower themselves, are fully autonomous with a solar panel and internal battery, and can be used in over 160 countries.

Pycno

A simple dashboard on the software makes it easy to visualize field conditions, weather forecasts and potential plant stress factors. Send alerts directly to a smart phone based upon past trends to help cut water and fertilizer costs.


FieldIn

Offering pest management software solutions to orchards, groves, and vineyards, FieldIn combines innovative hardware with an array of sensors, agricultural best-practices, data science analytics and proprietary algorithms into one solution that captures the farm's pulse. Their team leverages farmer intuition and experience with data science to create transparency, traceability, and collaboration on the farm.

FieldIn

With over $2 million raised in funding, FieldIn helps growers and organizations save money on their pest management practices by reducing overall pesticide applications and eliminating spray mistakes.


Amber Agriculture

Amber Agriculture specializes in smart sensor technology providing analytic solutions for the grain industry. Wireless pellet sensors are distributed with the grain in storage bins or transport containers to monitor internal conditions such as temperature, humidity and volatile compounds that signal how moist the grain is.

Cloud-based algorithms rooted in grain science principals help to avoid spoilage and product loss by running aeration systems at key times. Amber Agriculture was named Best Startup at the CES 2017 show, and began field trials shortly thereafter. This company has great potential to ameliorate grain spoilage problems worldwide.


Grownetics

Known for their “hyper efficient” cultivation systems, Grownetics was founded to optimize indoor cultivations. By combining big data and machine learning optimization algorithms, their products help growers reduce costs, decrease energy usage, and increase overall product quality.

Grownetics

High resolution crop sensors provide a micro-climate weather map of the indoor growing environment and are combined with open automation systems and individual plant tracking to create a customized operating system designed to provide quality harvests every time. In 2016, Grownetics was awarded the award for best technology company in the University of Colorado's New Venture Challenge.


Acuity Agriculture

Field data is a fantastic resource for farmers, but to get the most out of it, it needs to be collected and presented in real time. Acuity Agriculture builds wireless field sensors that allow farmers to monitor soil conditions, gauge pest development, schedule irrigation events, track climate volatility, and predict harvest timing.

Acuity Agriculture

Purchased sensors are installed free of charge by an Acuity representative and the company manages maintenance and grower education. Acuity Agriculture’s electronics and software are also designed in-house, allowing them to offer a superior product at a lower cost than their competitors.

Acuity Agriculture

Phytech

Their revolutionary software is making a name for the company, and helping them to raise big money. Phytech announced an $11 million investment secured at the end of 2017’s third quarter, and is seeing excellent customer retention in their US, Israeli, and Australian markets. Their smart sensors are placed directly on the plants of specialty and row crop farms, monitoring the micro-variations of stem diameters which are scientifically proven to act as stress indicators.

Phytech

Data is then transmitted via the cloud in real time for further analytics to provide the farmer with relevant alerts and field recommendations. Phytech’s innovative technology identifies water stress, making it incredibly accurate in determining irrigation decisions.


Slant Range

Providing sensor and analytic systems for use on drone aircraft to measure crop plant and weed densities, stress from pest infestations, nutrient deficiencies, and dehydration, Slant Range puts accurate and complete intelligence in the hands of farmers, agronomists and crop scouts.

Slant Range

Their technology drastically cuts down on flights costs, as it only requires a 20% overlap, covering four times more area per flights than traditional methods. When every dollar counts, their technology certainly considers the bottom line.

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