Farm analytics startup The Yield has raised A$11 million ($7.13 million) in an ongoing round led by Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory Silicon Valley – the VC arm of Japanese vehicle manufacturer Yamaha Motor.
[Disclosure: The Yield is an AgFunder portfolio company. AgFunder is the parent company of AFN.]
German tech and engineering giant Bosch, already a shareholder in the Australian startup, converted an existing loan into additional equity.
Sydney-based The Yield offers an app-based platform to provide farmers with microclimate data and predictive analytics, helping them to make optimal decisions about things like planting, feeding, irrigation, and harvesting.
The end-to-end system, called Sensing+, is mainly targeted at large-scale commercial growers in the specialty crops industry. On the hardware side, it includes internet-connected sensors – which the startup installs in situ – to collect data which can then be analyzed, with findings and recommendations relayed to farmers via the mobile app.
Ros Harvey, The Yield’s founder and managing director, said Sensing+ “helps customers to work largely remotely in managing the needs of their crops [and] labor requirements.”
“It facilitates the uptake of automated robotic operations in farming and remote management of dispersed assets,” she added. “By leveraging customer data sets, [it can] create AI models for things like yield predictions, that drive significant commercial benefit for customers.”
Harvey told AFN that the proceeds from the latest funding will be used to accelerate The Yield’s global patent strategy in targeted jurisdictions, as well as for product development and building out the startup’s marketing and sales capabilities.
“We know who our customer is and how to deliver RoI from our solutions. We have deep AI capability and global patent rights in our ability to predict microclimates using AI – for example, creating in-tunnel weather predictions,” she said.
“We are halving error rates for customers in yield predictions, including in challenging crops such as berries. This helps our customers achieve better price realisation as well as managing their labor and supply chain optimization.”
Launching in 2014, The Yield initially focussed on developing its data-driven solutions for aquaculture. Harvey and her team decided to start with a niche problem before expanding to land-based agriculture. The Yield’s microclimate sensors were first deployed on commercial oyster farms to measure salinity – a key metric for determining surface run-off from nearby land, which can contaminate the shellfish and make them unsuitable for human consumption.
Bosch first invested in The Yield back in its oyster-farming days, leading the startup’s $2.5 million pre-Series A round in 2016. Speaking about today’s investment in a statement, Gavin Smith, president at Bosch Australia, said that “Agriculture 4.0 is coming of age, and Australia is poised to play a leading role thanks to companies like The Yield.”
Nolan Paul, partner at Yamaha Motor Ventures, said that his firm has “scrutinized the global agtech sector as the food supply chain, particularly specialty crop production, is ripe for disruption.”
“Based on our domain analysis, we selected The Yield as a best-in-class solution in delivering predictive insights for specialty crops […] The Yield is poised to be The Climate Corp of horticulture, and we look forward to supporting the team’s strategic plan to scale its data-driven solution to the global specialty crop market,” he added.
The startup’s current funding round is open to new investors until 16 July 2020.
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