Italian digital ag platforms xFarm and Farm Technologies have joined forces to form xFarm Technologies. The new company will provide a “full digital farm management platform” offering AI and IoT solutions, with 80,000 farms and 1 million hectares under management, it says.
Founded in 2016, xFarm collects data from the field via a network of sensors. This data can then inform farmers’ decision-making and strategies in order to waste fewer economic and natural resources and respond more quickly to situations in the face of climate uncertainty and its consequences.
Farm Technologies is best known for Idroplan, its smart irrigation platform that helps farmers determine, via data and algorithms, the precise frequency and quantity of water needed by different crops.
XFarm Technologies’ newly appointed CEO Matteo Vanotti tells AFN that the two startups had worked together for the last few years and that their marriage is a “no-brainer.” He says the combined platform will be a faster, better product for clients when it comes to digital management of the farm.
A double challenge for farmers
According to the World Bank, we’ll need to produce about 60% more food to accommodate a global population that will reach almost 10 billion people by 2050 – meaning that farmers will have their work cut out for them. At the same time, they’ll be laboring under the expectation to lower their carbon footprints and find more sustainable production methods. Vanotti thinks that xFarm Technologies has a key role to play here.
“To produce more efficiently [and] be sustainable is a double challenge, so bringing some support from technology is a must,” he says.
One way to get more farmers on board and comfortable with the technology is to start off with what’s effectively a ‘freemium’ subscription. XFarm has used this model in the past, and the consolidated xFarm Technologies platform will continue in that vein.
“We’re using the Spotify approach. The farmers can test it, we’ll get the trust from the farmers, and when we have that trust we go into upselling the service,” Vanotti says. As an example, he suggests a farmer might start by adding a single digital tool to their operation before incorporating IoT and then moving on to, say, satellite imaging.
European, Latin American expansion
Rushing farmers into full digitalization of their entire operations risks overwhelming them and damaging the trust xFarm Technologies seeks to establish through its freemium model, he adds.
In addition to the existing capabilities xFarm and Farm Technologies bring to the merger, the new platform will also allow for focus on additional areas such as management of plant disease and insects, he says. A greater international presence is also in the works, as xFarm Technologies plans to expand outside of Italy and into Europe and Latin America.