This data-driven agritech company is using analytics to help farmers make the most of their crops
The Israeli agriculture technology company Phytech has announced that it has closed Series A funding, bringing the company a step closer to expanding its global market reach. Leading the round were current partners and investors Syngenta Ventures, which is the capital arm of one of the largest global agribusiness players, and Mitsui & Co Europe.
Founded in 1998, Phytech’s beginnings more closely resemble that of a classical company, providing data to farmers based on their monitoring of crops and going public with an IPO.
The shift came in 2011, when Sarig Duek bought into the company, bringing with him a team of investors that helped him privatise and enact a new approach to how it analysed and delivered data to the customers.
Over the course of two rounds between 2012 and 2014, Phytech brought in US$3 million in venture seed funds, helping it to sprout up and reach out to new markets.
The company has not released the amount that was raised in this most recent round but has acknowledged that it is greater than that of the seed rounds combined.
How it works
Phytech’s product can be defined as a decision support tool that optimises irrigation practice, such as how much and when to water. The app checks the plant’s stress levels with Phytech’s device, which has sensors mounted on the plant, helping the farmer know how much water the plant needs to produce an optimal yield. It combines the data from the plants along with satellite imaging, climate data, soil moisture, and the plants and elements surrounding the plants, basically creating an Internet of Plants.
All this data is sent to its cloud where it is aggregated and analysed, pushing out actionable alerts and recommendations to help the grower maximise their potential yield. This also helps save water, a factor that can incur significant cost savings.
The business model is based on a subscription service, with growers paying for product per season. This complete package includes everything from the sensors on the plants to the analytical cloud system.
Phytech works with growers of high-value crops like almonds, coffee, avocados, cotton and other plants that fetch a significant price. While it already controls a large chunk of the market for services in its native Israel, the innovative and analytical approach has brought the company work in many locations around the world like Australia, California, and Brazil.
It has formed a series of strategic partnerships with big multinationals like Syngenta that are also heavily involved in agricultural product developments. The Switzerland-based Syngenta operates as a biotechnology firm, producing everything from pesticides to modified seeds that are capable of growing stronger and more resistant crops.
Stacking up against the competition
Talking to Geektime, Duek says that Phytech differentiates itself from the other players in the agricultural technology field because the analytical platform gives growers a complete picture of not only what is going on with the plants, but also how the other factors like weather and soil conditions can affect the harvest. Conversely, he says that the company also stands out from companies that rely on satellite images alone.
Some of the other companies active in this field include CartaSense, Ranch Systems and Avid Wireless. While these organisations also provide recommendations and control features for irrigation, it would appear that Phytech’s method of analysis and conveyance of data for easier consumption propels it into a leadership position.
Looking to the future
Phytech’s solution for helping farmers improve their decision-making process on how best to irrigate their crops has produced an impressive machine learning product that the company hopes to expand to new areas.
Duek tells Geektime that the company already has a number of new solutions for monitoring soil and fertilisation needs in the innovation pipeline.
He adds that it plans on utilising the new funds to move from early stage market development to increase penetration in those markets, growing its reach through collaboration with its partners. The company also intends to continue its R&D to include studies of how pesticides and other factors affect the stress levels of plants.
The article Israeli agriculture technology Phytech harvests their Series A first appeared on Geektime.
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