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Source makes greenhouses smarter to secure the future of food supply – TechCrunch

Agtech startup Source.ag announced today that it has reaped a $10 million investment to make greenhouses smarter. The founders have set their sights on a horizon where climate change and a rapid increase in global food demand as population continues to increase will force more crops indoors to ensure higher crop yields. You wouldn’t believe the level of restraint it takes not to pun about seed funding in an article about greenhouses. I have no such reticence, so let’s cover this, um, growth industry.

The $10 million funding round was led by Acre Venture Partnerswith the participation of E14 fund and food-focused venture company Astanoor dares. The company was also raised by industry insiders, including the International Association of (Mostly) Lettuce Growers harvest housetomato specialists Agriculture and pepper specialists rainbow breeder.

The company develops software to make greenhouses smarter. The company argues that greenhouse farming is a safer, more reliable and climate-resilient way of producing food, producing up to 15 times higher yields and using 20 times more water than traditional farming. What Source adds to the mix is ​​the ability to use data and AI to help greenhouses operate with even greater efficiency and repeatability of high-yielding crops.

“Climate change is causing significant scarcity and stress on our global food supply. As this accelerates in the coming years, we need to find ways to scale efficient cultivation solutions that reduce the farming footprint,” said Lucas Mann, managing partner at Acre. “Greenhouse farming is a proven and viable solution, but without innovation, demand will not be met. We believe Source.ag can play a crucial role in driving its global scalability.”

Funding will be used to accelerate product development and expand commercial collaborations.

“Greenhouses come in all shapes and forms – both more and less technologically advanced. On the high-tech side, you want control over every dimension you can think of, including moisture, watering, and nutrition. Tomatoes, for example, don’t grow in soil. They go in substrate plates. This means that these operations are independent of farmland,” explains Rien Kamman, co-founder and CEO of Source. “Because you have more control, you have to make more decisions every day. Every day growers make decisions on 60-70 parameters that will affect how this crop will grow for the rest of the season. You have to make the right decision every day. This can include plant nutrition, plant specific parameters, pruning, etc. It’s really a craft and that’s why it’s still so difficult. You need decades of experience to do well at it.”

The complexity of the farm itself is unquestionable and Source wants to combine all of these growth parameters with historical crop yield data and market prices etc. to create a better experience for growers.

“Our system consists of two aspects. On the one hand, a recommendation system that evaluates the current condition of the system. It looks at forward-looking predictors such as resource prices, weather, etc. and then makes very specific recommendations to the grower. What should you do today and tomorrow, both on the plant (i.e. how should you cut, prune, etc.) and on the indoor climate around the plants, to maximize sustainability and production? The second part is what happens when things don’t go to plan? This is where the algorithms come in,” says Kamman. “They work with the various governance systems to adopt that strategy and make sure it’s being implemented as efficiently as possible.”

Indoor farming still requires a fair bit of manual labor, especially for large vines like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, etc.; But Source suggests it can help there too — by choosing how and where to prune, or how many plants to mature on the vine, you can affect different aspects of plant growth. The interesting thing is that real-time price data is being overlaid here – by speeding up or slowing down ripening, I imagine the harvest time could potentially be pushed back in time if your competitors have ripe produce, possibly even trading or working with lower yields for better prices Temperatures and weather conditions, for example to reduce production costs.

The company operates on a SaaS model and provides growers with a tiered fee based on the amount of space they use to grow.

“We believe that agriculture is at a turning point in history. [Farming] that got us where we are today won’t get us to 10 billion people with a changing extreme climate. This is a huge market – the need for climate-resilient food systems will increase. And then we haven’t even talked about what other traditional agricultural crops might be brought indoors in the next few decades,” says Kamman. “I think what unites our investors and our team is that we don’t look at these benefits so much in the short-term, but that we can build knowledge that scales globally.”

The company declined to share screenshots of its product, saying it was “competitively sensitive.”

Source makes greenhouses smarter to secure the future of food supply – TechCrunch Source link Source makes greenhouses smarter to secure the future of food supply – TechCrunch

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