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Hyperspectral Remote Sensing Startup FluroSat Raises A$1m Seed Round

December 18, 2017

FluroSat, an Australian crop health software startup, has raised an A$1 million ($770k) seed round for its decision support platform for cotton and grain growers.

FluroSat uses various remote sensing methods, including satellites, drones, and some aerial imagery, to capture and analyze hyperspectral images of cotton and grain fields to predict disease and help growers make decisions related to crop health.

Investors in the round include Main Sequence Ventures, manager of the Australian government’s $100 million CSIRO Innovation Fund, Airtree Ventures and Australia’s Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC).

Multispectral cameras can measure generic characteristics such as if a plant is healthy or not, but hyperspectral images can go one step further, and diagnose the exact reason for that state, according to FluroSat. That’s because the extra bands of light they can detect can be associated with specific physiological traits within the plant. Constant imaging available from a variety of platforms allows FluroSat clients to track the health of their fields over time.

“You can pick any point on the paddock and the analytics will show you the trend so you can find which areas of the farm are underperforming and make financial decisions,” said founder and CEO Anastasia Volkova. 

FluroSat customers pay a fee per hectare, which includes drone and satellite imagery. If aerial imagery is necessary, there may be an additional charge. Growers using the platform, called FluroViewer, can also become more efficient in their fertilizer applications, reducing fertilizer use by 30%.

The platform shows nitrogen maps and suggests exact locations for agronomists to take tissue samples. They then enter the results into the platform to further calibrate fertilizer recommendations. The fertilizer prescription maps that result can be integrated with other farm management software platforms in order to incorporate historical data.

Volkova told AgFunderNews her platform can also predict disease five to seven days before the human eye can see it.

“We really want to be tapping into the cutting edge of remote sensing and hyperspectral sensing and looking into the signatures that can hint where the early stress is happening. That’s the key,” said Volkova. “Ultimately, FluroViewer will be the only tool of its kind to proactively suggest management strategies and allow the users to evaluate the effect and the return of the on-farm experiments at a sub-paddock level.”

In its first year, FluroSat has generated A$200k ($153k) in revenue monitoring 80 farms. Clients include Landmark, an Australian ag retailer owned by Canada-based major ag retailer Agrium

FluroSat will use the new funds to expand its customer base on in Australia and expand commercial operations to the US. After one successful trial in California this year, more trials will begin with US cotton growers in May.

Also using hyperspectral images from multiple remote sensing sources is Switzerland’s Gamaya, which focuses on corn, soybean, and sugarcane.

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