Last week, we invested in CropX -- an adaptive irrigation solution for agriculture. We have seen many different sensor-related companies in agriculture over the past few months, but CropX stood out for its interdisciplinary team, the fact that it was solving big immediate pain points for growers, and its huge longer-term opportunity to become the digital agriculture platform.
The team draws from a variety of backgrounds and domain expertise that we believe is critical to success in the agriculture world. The CEO, Isaac Bentwich, brings deep technology expertise and previous entrepreneurial experiences (formerly the cofounder of Rosetta Genomics) to the table. Combined with Michael Dowgert’s extensive experience in the irrigation world (formerly a Marketing Director at Netafim), this team has the right balance between technologist and agriculturalist -- a unique asset that is difficult to find.
Moreover, CropX solves an immediate pain point in the market. Water management has become not only a hot topic due to the issues with the California drought, but is also a critical pain point for many farmers. CropX provides an opportunity to reduce water spend by as much as 30%, improve yields as a result of preventing overwatering, and comply with regulatory requirements around nitrate run-off. Their solution is elegant, only requiring 3 low-cost sensors, and is a SaaS company at heart. Their proprietary algorithms take in sensor data and map out the water saturation to develop real-time irrigation maps that are highly accurate.
While tackling the irrigation market is exciting -- 17% of farmland is irrigated and produces 50% of the ag outputs in the US -- we are fascinated about the way CropX will become a game-changer in digital agriculture outside of just irrigation. Over the next few years, technology will transform the agriculture world and will make it connected and digital, enabling a much more effective in-field process. Ubiquitous computers in the form of cheap sensors can now collect data that was never captured before from every part of the field. Coupling this data with cloud analytics and advanced data sciences will enable growers to make smarter decisions. These decisions can be translated to real-time automation for on-farm processes (e.g., Blue River Technology), which will transform the way we think about automation & robotics in the field (literally).
The best products in the digital agriculture space will enable step-function increases in yield and will eventually be used by farmers nationally and globally. Once that happens, those products will become the platform for many other developers, providing data and effective distribution channels to a new wave of entrepreneurs. We believe that CropX is building one of those game changing products, and will evolve to become such platform over the next few years.
We are excited to welcome CropX into the Innovation Endeavors & Farm2050 family!