May 25, 2022

The flagship of agrotech startup SupPlant is essentially a babylonian fish for plants: with a set of hardware sensors, plants can tell you if they have enough water, or if they could use an extra sip or two. In a world where under-watering is far more harmful than over-watering, a farmer without the technology may be tempted to keep the soil wetter than necessary, wasting vast amounts of precious water. By carefully measuring plants and relating their position to weather and soil data, it can provide very accurate watering needs. The company has just raised $27 million to continue developing its own growth trajectory.

When the agricultural revolution took place 12,000 years ago, farmers began to track how crops were growing based on varying weather conditions and the wide variability of weather forecasts. Many of these patterns are being disrupted by climate change.

“ability to create” Judgments are literally lost from season to season – that’s where we step in. By touching a plant, we can determine what exactly we need it for, regardless of the season,” explains Orr Ben Ner, CEO and founder of SuperPlant, Third Generation Farmers. He admits that his grandfather, who turns 91 this year and still grows onions, watermelons and corn, would hardly recognize what he does as farming.

The company has two products; Software solution and software and hardware product. The hardware product measures one plant per 25 hectares and uses this data to display the needs of all crops in the area. The solution uses five different sensors: deep soil, shallow soil, stem, leaf and fruit. Each sensor feeds data into an algorithm that also takes into account weather conditions, forecasts, soil information and other private data to make strategic recommendations on when to water crops over the next 10-14 days.

“We learned about the characteristics of the trunk and – later this season – fruits, adjusting these recommendations for watering. Our system remembers the optimal scheme and mode of watering. This keeps the plant and fruit on the right track. The maximum growth pattern a plant is capable of,” Ner explains. “From there, he starts to go into detail about their specific rules for increasing the sugar content. For example, for vintners, you may want to infuse the plant at some point, three weeks. Stimulate the plant to produce sugar. The more sugar in the grapes, the better the wine. In short, the end result is a dramatic increase in yields. Our main goal is to increase and improve yields, but the by-product is that we save a lot of water.”

The company closed a $27 million round led by Red Dot Capital with strategic philanthropic investors Menomadine Foundation, Smart Agro Fund and others. This round brought SupPlant’s total funding to over $45 million. Currently, the company employs about 70 employees, and this year it is planned to increase their number to 100+.

In addition to the hardware product, the company recently launched API, a sensorless technology that has served 500,000 corn farmers in Kenya over the past season. SupPlant is transforming the basic concept of irrigation practices to make its technology available to these small farmers. The new technology targets the world’s 450 million small producers. SupPlant plans to bring more than one million African and Indian smallholder farmers to its platform by 2022.

The SupPlant app can help farmers understand how to respond to extreme weather events so that plants have the best chance of thriving. image credit: pushing

“After several years in the market and using thousands of sensors, we have millions of irrigation programs covering more than 33 crops, with more than 200 varieties in every conceivable geographic region and in every climate you can imagine. So the fundamental value of today’s product is that we have the most unique irrigation database on earth, the hardware will facilitate that,” Ner explains. It’s clear that a hardware solution is more accurate than just software, but as the company collects more and more data, it can extrapolate how different cultures will perform. “Our key markets, where the bulk of our sales force is based, are Australia, Mexico, South Africa and Argentina. A super-successful proof of concept where we signed 100% of the data in the UAE. It contains 2.1 million trees. Our solution allows the UAE to save 70% of metered water consumption. The amount we can save on one tree is equal to the consumption of 10 people in the emirate, one of the driest places on earth. ,

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