With a growing global population, food scarcity is a real concern. Estimates suggest that farms will need to boost production by some 70 percent by mid-century in order to meet demand. As a result, indoor farming and vertical farms are being explored as sustainable solutions to these problems. However, labor and energy costs pose notable challenges to this shift in food production. Developing strategies that can allow indoor farming to succeed remains a high priority objective. Understanding this situation, several agricultural technology (AgTech) startups are offering innovative solutions for indoor farming issues.
From data analytics to robotics, AgTech companies are finding ways to enhance productivity, efficiency, and profitability for indoor farming ventures. And some have now advanced their operations in scale to serve the largest farms in the world. Through these efforts, AgTech companies offer tremendous hope for meeting global food demand for the future.
AgTech Solutions to Boost Indoor Farming Success
Farms and crop production face many challenges when it comes to advancing operations. Weather, pests, field management, and other factors are intuitive in this regard. Nevertheless, labor management is similarly important as this factor typically represents half of all costs. While indoor farming helps address some common farming issues, labor costs remain unresolved. In addition, energy costs associated with LED lighting can be substantial and can undermine profitability as well. These are critical areas where AgTech companies are trying to help.
Understanding this case, a number of AgTech startups now offer new technologies to boost indoor farming viability. Tractors are provided with automated self-driving technologies. Likewise, AI-assisted robotics are being used to harvest crops at peak periods of freshness. Even wearable sensors are being utilized for livestock protection. All of these unique AgTech solutions help indoor farming ventures enhance their volume and quality of their yields—all while reducing expenses.
Major AgTech Players in the Indoor Farming Sector Today
Several AgTech companies have recently made headlines, with notable capital infusions into their efforts. Artemis—previously known as Agrilyst—recently received an additional $8 million in a Series A funding. This fact brings its total to $11.75 million in capital raised. Artemis, as a result, has moved into enterprise operations with a complete cultivation management platform. Artemis’ platform is broad in scope and includes labor management, regulatory compliance, climate control, and point-of-sales systems. It also provides extensive data analytics systems to assist with crop yields and quality oversight.
Another major AgTech startup involved in indoor farming is 80 Acres Farms. This Ohio-based company specializes in providing automated indoor farming operations for growing vegetables and fruits. Its enterprise operations include not only optimal crop yields and facility management but also product packaging, branding, marketing, and distribution. 80 Acres also employs robotics, artificial intelligence, data analytics, and sensor control systems to aid indoor farming operations. Also, it recently announced a joint venture with two European companies in creating a fully automated indoor farming facility in China.
AgTech and Indoor Farming Moving into the Mainstream
Artemis and 80 Acres Farms are not the only AgTech startups making significant changes in the indoor farming sector. Smart Ag has raised over $6.5 million and offers a “plug-in” device enabling tractors to become automated with GPS guidance. Root AI has raised $2.3 million to advance AI-assisted robots to pick produce. And Farmwise has raised $6.3 million to advance its robotics solutions to eliminate weeds without using herbicides for large enterprises. These farming innovations will be essential directions for indoor farms to succeed and meet food production needs.
As these types of AgTech startups become more prevalent, indoor farming operations will become progressively more adept at using them. Likewise, cannabis production is serving to bring these types of AgTech solutions into the mainstream. For companies like Artemis and 80 Acres Farms, their tremendous funding support highlights their potential for the future. Indeed, it would appear that opportunities exist for other AgTech startups to make similar impacts in this growing area.