Ranking of Agricultural Technology Companies Released

THRIVE’s categories reflect high-level themes in agriculture technology, spanning the field across the supply chain to the consumer. The categories and companies are as follows:

Biotechnology – Advanced Animal Diagnostics, Agbiome, Agrimetis, Ancera, Apeel Sciences, Benson Hill Biosystems, Caribou Biosciences, Clear Labs, Gingko Bioworks, Indigo Biosciences, Inocucor, New Leaf Symbiotics, Nuritas, Provivi, Safe Traces, and Terramera.

Predictive data analytics – Agrible, Ceres Imaging, Descartes Labs, Farmers Business Network, Farmers Edge, Mavrx, Orbital Insight, Precision Hawk, Resson, Taranis, and Terravion.

Cloud services/SaaS – Agworld, Conservis, Farmlogs, Farmobile, Phytech, Prospera, and Strider.

Connected devices ­– Arable, CropX, Hortau, Semios, Swiim, and The Yield.

Robotics & Automation – Abundant Robotics, EcoRobotix, Harvest Automation, MagGrow, Naio Technologies, and Soft Robotics.

NextGen Farms – AeroFarms, Bowery Farms, BrightFarms, and Plenty.

The Future of Agriculture Automation

How does the earth feed nine to ten billion people?

Smart farming is an important part in answering this existential question. Smart farming is a highly efficient way to produce food. It uses the most recent technology that is computer-supported and, where possible, fully automated. The seeds are placed individually and accurately; the fruits are picked by hand-operated pickers; and fertilizers and other plant protection products are applied in small amounts and in a specific way. These operations are made possible by a number of small, powerful electric motors.

The latest technological craze focuses on ever-changing topics, such as quantum computers, space tourism and hydrogen technology. Surprisingly, agriculture is often overlooked. Despite the fact that it has so far been able to feed an exponentially increasing human population, The 18th century agricultural revolution allowed for huge increases in yields. It is based on increasing use of high yielding varieties, chemical pesticides and mineral fertilizers, as well as mechanization and large-scale, artificial irrigation. However, these interventions in the ecology can have undesirable side effects.

All population forecasts are well-founded and predict that the human population could reach nine to ten billion by the end this century. Even this large population can be fed by the earth’s resources. This is a huge challenge for agriculture. Crop cultivation and livestock agriculture must produce more, but not endanger the life-sustaining resources. Our most precious “resources” are fertile soil, clean groundwater, and an intact natural environment. These resources must be protected at every cost.

Instead of focusing on the field, focus on the plant.

Many important steps in crop cultivation, including fertilizing, planting and protecting crops, have been done on the basis of land area. The quantity of pesticide or seed to be spread is determined by the area. The machines then distribute the material at the correct flow rate. A portion of the fertilizer that is meant to strengthen the plants instead reaches the groundwater. Manual labor is expensive and can be difficult, such as when it comes to the pruning and harvesting of delicate vegetable and fruit varieties. As a result, more businesses are experiencing a staff shortage.

Smart farming is the use of modern technology to improve efficiency in agriculture. It uses less resources, reduces monotony, and produces higher yields. This includes precision farming, digital agriculture, and e-farming. Computer-supported and networked processes, machine learning, and custom robot functions allow for the focus to be on individual plants and not the entire field.

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Targeted use of fertilizers and herbicides reduces soil contamination.

The more directly the measures are targeted at the plants, the more economically and efficiently these measures can be used. For example, the use of herbicides can be significantly reduced if applied to the individual plants in a more targeted manner. Fruits and vegetables could be harvested by robots in continuous passes, always at the optimum ripeness.

The autonomous, lightweight field robots can also protect the ground. The largest agricultural machines today weigh in at ten tons. Every pass causes soil compaction due to its high weight. This reduces the soil’s ability to absorb water and air and negatively impacts soil life. It also affects the health and growth of crop plants located near roads. Smart farming can contribute to healthier soils and greater biodiversity.

From the moment you put seed into the ground, thousands of things can stop a seed’s ability to reach its full genetic potential.

Greg Meyers, CIO/CD, Syngenta

Automation in agriculture, horticulture

Many applications are currently only prototypes or studies. Smart farming, however, is being used in practical ways such as precision planting. This machine was initially developed for research and seed-breeding. These machines can plant individual seeds at precise intervals. The acreage is maximized and each plant gets enough space to grow. The valuable seeds are also used efficiently.

Modern machines only use one row of separation modules with an electric drive. The motor drives the slotted or toothed disk which transports individual seeds to the outlet. An intelligent controller can precisely determine the optimal spacing for each type and row of seeds. It can also compensate for the differences in the corners when the rows are traveling around corners. Motorized closures can also be used to control the feeding of seeds to the disks.

Many plants in greenhouses are grown in small pots. Later, they are replanted in larger containers or in raised beds. Modern horticultural enterprises use machines to sort and handle pots and plants. It is similar to machinery used in logistics and industrial production. Roller conveyors and conveyor belts are used to transport trays containing products at various stages. These grippers are different from similar devices used in other industries by the form of their “fingers”. They are driven by micromotors and perform the manual handling of individual pots or root balls.

Although self-driving harvesting devices for fruits and vegetables are not yet mature enough to be used in general, the direction of technical development is evident. Camera-assisted sensors detect the degree and shape of strawberries and peppers and record their precise position. This data is used by the on-board computer to control a robot arm that is equipped with a type or shears as well as a collection device. This technology is made up of many electric motors. These include the single-wheel drive, the robot arm, the cutting apparatus, and the collection system.

How AI can transform the future of agriculture

AI systems help increase the harvest quality and accuracy, also known as precision farming. AI technology can detect disease in plants and pests, as well as poor nutrition in farms. AI sensors detect and target weeds, then determine which herbicide to use in the area.

What is Farm Automation in Agriculture? 

The process of utilizing various technological innovations to upgrade and automate the many processes of farming is known as farm automation. This technique is meant to ease the labor and time-intensive processes of agriculture that challenge farmers around the world.

Electronics and electrical system are key technologies

“Mechanical gear transmissions and pneumatic drive are very common in conventional agricultural machinery,” said Kevin Moser, FAULHABER’s business development manager. These are too heavy, bulky, too complicated, and inefficient for small-scale smart farming systems. There are now more electric micromotors that provide power for specific tasks. However, drives used in agricultural environments must meet extremely high standards.

Modern machinery takes over the sorting and handling of crops.

Unlike the traditional large devices, the machines and components used in smart farming are generally more compact and lighter. This means that there is often little space available for the motors. Nevertheless, as drives of sowing disks, flaps, grippers, robot arms or shears, they must supply sufficient power to reliably perform the respective task over countless cycles. At the same time, they should operate extremely efficiently, as the autonomous units usually draw their energy from batteries with limited power reserve. It must also be possible to integrate the drive electronics in networked structures and make intelligent control possible.