As part of a US$8 million Series A funding round, farm equipment giant CNH Industrial has taken a minority stake in Augmenta, an agtech firm focused on automating farming operations using computer vision and artificial intelligence ‘on the edge’, whereby data is processed in real time, directly by the system. The move will see CNH Industrial become Augmenta’s strategic partner in crop sensing and machinery automation, and future research and development.
Furthermore, the partnership reinforces the product portfolio of AGXTEND, CNH’s accelerator for tech startups, through which Augmenta’s technology will now be available on a global scale.
Augmenta’s real-time precision farming solution uses a roof-mounted system, which contains multispectral 4K cameras that scan the field ahead during normal farming operation, and by using artificial intelligence calculates exactly what the crop needs in terms of fertiliser or crop protection products. This real-time variable rate application prescription is transmitted to the implement instantly, thereby reducing the quantity of such products required, lowering operating costs and enhancing sustainable practices.
This advanced system, compatible with a broad range of crops, including small and large grains, cotton, rice and sugarcane, not only analyses the crop condition – including detecting foliage status and various other visual patterns – but also compensates for environmental factors which may impact analysis, such as light levels. Data from the system is automatically transmitted to a cloud portal, for easy management and analysis, or can be exported in standard format to other farm management information systems.
Augmenta, headquartered in Paris, France, and with offices in the United States, has its research and development campus in Athens, Greece. The company is exclusively focused on developing precision farming solutions based on computer vision and artificial intelligence. To date, the company’s products are in 16 countries throughout North and South America, Europe and Australia. Average input reductions for broad acre crops observed to date are 9% for Nitrogen, 20% for PGR and 15% for Harvest Aids compared to traditional practices, with an average yield increase of 2%, according to the company.
The Augmenta system currently supports real-time Nitrogen, Plant Growth Regulator (PGR), and Harvest Aid (HA) applications, with more services like Green on Brown (GoB) pesticide spraying already in the R&D roadmap, all of which will be available through over-the-air software updates. Farmers cite cost savings and ease of use among the principal benefits.
“This investment round will help us expand our distribution network around the world and accelerate our ambitious R&D plans,” concluded George Varvarelis, Augmenta’s co-founder & CEO. “We are excited to collaborate with a top tier OEM like CNH Industrial and a prominent impact investor like Pymwymic [which also took part in the funding round]. They share our vision of ‘Green Technology without Silos’ and are determined to help us provide solutions to empower all farmers, regardless of the size of their land or their preferred tractor brand.”