The opportunities to rethink the global food system are creating a crowded landscape of high-tech, agriculture innovators through agtech. But, reaching a scale that’s sustainable for business is a challenge, despite the appetite for new ways of producing food.
One challenge comes down to capital. Investors who made heavy bets in 2020 have since shifted their strategy, which places more strain on entrepreneurs to set themselves apart. Add to that a landscape where everyone tells the same story, and things get complicated. With so much on the line, the companies that succeed will portray themselves as safe bets, minimize risks and illustrate how they will maintain an edge in the highly competitive field.
Three key segments show promise for the future of the industry, and clear frontrunners are emerging with track records of driving meaningful innovation in this agricultural revolution.
Precision agriculture uses advanced technologies to enhance crop production, reduce waste and minimize environmental impact. These technologies provide real-time data about crop, soil and air conditions, as well as tangential data including weather forecasts, labor costs, and equipment and overhead costs. The precision agriculture market is expected to reach $19.2 billion by 2030 and some key sectors include remote sensing and imagery, sensor technology and IoT, and drones.
Descartes Labs, InnerPlant and Hylio are some of the innovators driving the agricultural transformation. These companies are developing a range of technologies, including methods to improve crop health with satellite imagery and remote sensing data, fully autonomous drones and remote sensors.
Vertical farming involves cultivating crops in stacked layers, often indoors or in controlled environments and without soil. The market value of vertical farming is anticipated to exceed $35 billion by 2032 as limited arable land, water scarcity and climate change continue to make these approaches more attractive to investors.
Freight Farms and Bowery Farming are some leaders in the vertical farming segment. Freight Farms, for example, created the largest connected network of farms in the world, and Bowery is recognized as the largest vertical-farming operation in the U.S.
The integration of robotics and automation in agriculture is revolutionizing various tasks, including planting, harvesting, crop maintenance and monitoring. The agricultural robotics market is projected to exceed $23.8 billion by 2023, solving for labor shortages in sectors such as produce harvesting.
Tortuga AgTech, Harvest Automation and Advanced Farm Technologies have been making waves in the robotics sector of agtech. Tortuga AgTech is making the world’s largest commercial harvesting robot fleet with 150 production robots.
Here’s why getting the story right matters
The threat of climate change, dwindling water and land resources, food insecurity and rising costs, a growing population expected to reach 10 billion people by 2050, and increasing public concerns over farm animal welfare, all culminate in a pivotal moment for the agriculture industry. As we continue through the fourth agricultural revolution, where technology is meeting agriculture’s biggest challenges, these innovators are transforming farming practices for the better.
Given this, it’s vital that agtech leaders navigate today’s complex consumer, business and political environments with precision, and tell the stories of responsible technology. There’s a healthy appetite for new ways of producing food, and the right story at the right time can help agtech entrepreneurs build credibility, establish themselves as leaders, and raise the funds they need to change the world.
RH Strategic is a Seattle and D.C.-based PR agency with a nationwide presence and additional global reach via membership in the Worldcom Public Relations Group. We provide strategic public relations for innovators in the technology, government, healthcare, and social and environmental impact markets.