While today's farmers are more likely to use an iPad than an almanac, they grapple with rising materials prices, global economic challenges, worker shortages, and being at the coalface of climate change.
The agricultural sector is working to stay resilient against these challenges with investment and adoption in new technologies at a scale that increases productivity, yield, and animal health, as well as saving time and reducing wastage. Here are some European startups laying the ground for the future of farming:
Grain storage (for seed or livestock purposes) is a precarious business as pests, moisture, and humidity can all cause contamination of the seed, making it unusable or unsellable.
GrainMonitor has developed a Smart Grain Probe that, when placed inside a grain pile, provides real-time, continuous data on crop heat temperature and external humidity levels to improve the quality and quantity of grain for farmers across Hungary and central Europe.
Each probe can operate by battery for three years minimum, sending data using the LoRaWAN network up to four times daily to the GrainMonitor platform, available on desktop or mobile applications.
With a mission to democratise agriculture, Wikifarmer aims to become a resource for farmers, offering free up-to-date information on agricultural best practices. It also allows them to sell their products directly to businesses, helping them minimise or surpass the large number of intermediaries that currently exist, ultimately increasing profits.
Micron Agritech (Ireland)
Animals with worms? No thanks. But blanket medication dosing is expensive and time-consuming and can cause medication resistance.
Enter Micron Agritech with Micron Kit. It allows vets to test animals for parasites on-site. Data imagery is compressed and uploaded to the company's servers. Its proprietary machine-learning algorithm then detects the presence and type of parasite eggs within 30 minutes. A track and trace app allows monitoring common parasites amongst specific herds of cattle.
Micron Kit is currently being trialled in Ireland, the UK, the USA, New Zealand and Australia by some of the world's leading vets.
The future of farming is less resource intensive and more sustainable. Crop.Zone has developed the volt.fuel Electrical Weeding System, which uses an electrical current to destroy weeds. An alternative to harmful herbicides, it only affects the plants treated and kills the affected plant to the root — without chemical toxicity, residues or the development of weed resistance. It is also used in desiccation applications and seedbed preparation.
The company has raised €11 million in funding over two rounds.
Today's farmers are looking for analytical insights into the health of their land and crops to determine optimum times for planting, spraying, cultivation, and harvesting
Droppity uses sensors to measure soil moisture, temperature, air temperature and humidity. Its data analytics platform forecasts weather and precipitation. The corresponding app also works with satellite images of farm fields to easily track field vegetation and identify anomalies in crop fields or orchards.
Small Robot Co (UK)
Small Robot Co is reimagining farming to make food production sustainable. It's developing an entirely new model for ecologically harmonious, efficient and profitable farming using robotics and artificial intelligence. It calls this "Per Plant Farming."
The Small Robot Company has raised €9.5 million in funding over five rounds.