Disclosure: AFN’s parent company, AgFunder, is an investor in Fieldin.
Digital ag company Fieldin has acquired Midnight Robotics for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition will add a layer of autonomous driving capabilities to Fieldin’s sensor-based farm management platform, providing more efficiency when it comes to day-to-day tasks on the farm, the company said.
Fieldin co-founder and CEO Boaz Bachar tells AFN that his company intends to implement this enhanced farm management solution in California in the first quarter of 2022.
Founded in Haifa, Israel in 2013, Fieldin has since expanded to the US and Australia. It claims to be the largest ‘smart farm management’ company in the US, with 30% of the country’s lettuce crop — and 20% of the world’s almond crop — running through its platform.
These farms use Fieldin’s software platform, AgOS, to digitalize practices like spraying, harvesting, mowing, and hedging. AgOS gathers data from around the farm via sensors placed on tractors and other equipment, and analyzes that data to provide real-time recommendations to farmers.
Midnight Robotics was founded in 2019 by Yonatan Horovitz and Edo Reshef, both veterans of light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology company Innoviz. The startup’s core product is a retrofit kit for tractors that uses LiDAR perception — a key self-driving technology — to enable farm vehicles to work autonomously. Integrated into Fieldin’s platform, this technology will provide autonomous execution of some farm tasks via tractors and other machinery while providing additional data.
Bachar tells AFN that the Midnight Robotics team stood out to Fieldin because of its technological expertise.
“We really believe that they know better than anyone out there [about] autonomous and LiDAR technology” and are “a great cultural fit” for Fieldin, he says.
Horovitz and Reshef will join Fieldin as chief autonomy officer and chief technology officer, respectively.
Bachar says a number of factors are driving the agricultural industry towards more autonomous technologies, especially when it comes to labor-related issues like wages and finding enough workers. Climate change and water shortages add to the challenges for larger farms and underscore the need to make farming operations as efficient as possible.
However, he is quick to point out that Fieldin’s new autonomous layer isn’t a magic solution that will solve such challenges overnight. The “autonomous revolution” on the farm will take years to complete – and beyond self-driving tractors and other machinery, it will require a robust operating system providing insights in real time that the machines can execute on, he says.
Down the line, he suggests we can expect to see the market for autonomous farming evolve to include many different suppliers of autonomous solutions all connected to one operating system.
The Midnight Robotics acquisition comes on the heels of Fieldin’s $30 million Series B funding round in September.