AgSmarts, a precision agriculture irrigation system equipped with moisture sensing technology and cloud-based data analytics, raised $850,000 in an overfunded campaign with AgFunder back in December. The startup is now transitioning from research and development to the commercial market, with a batch of 50 units set to hit shelves this month.
“The campaign helped us communicate our story to a broader audience that we wouldn’t have reached otherwise,” said CEO Brett Norman. Since the close, Norman says the response for precision ag technology has been rising. “Interest in the space is changing, growing—I’ve even noticed a difference over the past six months.”
Founded in early 2014, Memphis-based AgSmarts—described as the “Google Nest” of agriculture irrigation—has developed smart hardware and software that could help farmers water crops more efficiently. First, sensors collect data on soil conditions throughout fields. Next, sensors wirelessly tell the retrofitted irrigation system when and how much water is needed for each crop section. Users can also keep watch over their land with real-time field maps, which are viewable on the website or with mobile devices. The end result is boosted crop yields, reduced water and energy use, and ultimately, money saved—$63 per acre, according to AgSmarts.
As AgSmarts begins distributing, Norman recognizes the next hurdle— “rising above the noise” of competition in the precision ag space. He says the combination of the system’s Bluetooth capabilities, built-in adaptable intelligence, and low price point (the list price for a configured unit is $1,660. Costs are measured at $30 per acre for the first four years, with an ongoing service fee of around $20 per acre), as well the fact that it doesn’t impose contracts or data plans on users, puts AgSmarts and its products ahead of the curve.
In the coming months, Norman says the company will focus on strategizing and establishing relationships with major players in the industry, so it can build momentum, expand from regional markets, and cross into the next phase: large-scale commercialization.
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In the meantime, AgSmarts continues to conduct live demos in Memphis, and in partnership with the USDA’s Agriculture Research Service, plans to run trials in Eastern Arkansas this growing season. The company has also held research partnerships with several universities across the U.S., including the Universities of Tennessee, Georgia, and Arkansas.
Norman, who grew up on a Tennessee tobacco farm, knows from experience how difficult it can be to manage resources in agriculture. “We just can’t continue to waste water the way that we have,” he said. “Right now, the stars are lined up for technology like ours on the market. There couldn’t be a better time.”
FEATURED IMAGE: AgSmarts field sensor