Augmenta, an ag IoT and automation startup based out of Athens, Greece and Austin, Texas, has raised $600k in seed funding from Marathon Venture Capital, a tech investor focused on entrepreneurs from Greece.
The startup manufactures a plug and play device that scans and analyzes crops as a tractor moves across the field capturing 4K video data of every inch of the field. The ISOBUS-compliant, universal gadget then controls the spreader or sprayer to make sure that only the required amount of fertilizer, pesticide or fungicide is applied where it is needed.
The aim of the machine learning-based technology is to reduce farmers’ input costs by applying these inputs more precisely in what Augmenta is calling “Augmented Farming.” Fertilizers alone generally account for about 25% of a farmer’s input costs. However, the usage of fertilizers remains far from optimized; more often than not, fertilizers are spread uniformly all over the field.
Augmenta‘s web app also tracks crop progress on each farm, helping farmers to make other decisions about how and when to perform certain tasks.
The technology achieved a 12% increase in yield, using 13% fewer chemicals and producing a 15% improvement in protein levels, in studies conducted by the University of Thessaly in Greece, according to a press release. A number of pilots have been successfully completed on various crops in Europe, including cereals grown for Italian food company Barilla.
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In a blog post on its website, Augmenta says its device can replace nitrogen sensors that create yield maps used for the variable rate application of fertilizer and provide a better resolution.
Augmenta will use the funding to finalize the device and fulfill pre-orders from farmers who want to be pilot partners, according to George Varvarelis, co-founder and CEO.
“We have already conducted pilots with our working prototype in the last two years, partnering with 10 farmers and yielding impressive results,” he told AgFunderNews. “Given the current round and initial demand, we expect to turn the company profitable soon; in this context, we will be exploring raising a new investment only to accelerate customer acquisition/success and expanding our product core.”
This will be the first announced agtech investment by Marathon Venture Capital, according to Thaleia Misailidou from the firm, adding that they plan to announce another very soon.
“We have not previously invested in computer vision but, in general, we invest in solutions with a clear technological advantage and the potential to disrupt legacy industries,” she told AgFunderNews. “We have a preference for deep tech solutions. Examples of our other recent investments are Landoop, Inaccel, Norbloc. Augmenta was founded by a team of two farmers and engineers with the vision of making farmers’ lives better. Their computer vision and deep learning technology allow for optimization of core agriculture operations, such as fertilization, fungicide or pesticide spraying, in a seamless way without changing the equipment or working process of the farmer.”