Canada-based agritech startup Precision AI has raised seed funding of $20 million to help the agriculture industry reduce its chemical footprint. Its solution? Deploying swarms of artificially intelligent drones to bring down the use of herbicides in agriculture dramatically.
Avoiding criminal wastage
Herbicide spraying is believed to be one of the least efficient agricultural activities. Precision AI estimates that more than 80% of herbicides end up wasted on bare ground, while another 15% of the harmful chemicals fall on the crops. And so, the startup wants to help farmers reduce pesticide use by up to 95% with the help of drones.
Precision AI uses drone-based computer vision technology for guided weed targeting in row crop farming. The drones spray only the problem areas and avoid the crops.
How does this translate into dollar savings? The startup says a combination of drone technology and precise chemical applications can help farmers save up to $52 per acre per growing season. For Daniel McCann, CEO and founder of Precision AI:
The cost savings are massive. And the affordable unit economics of drones makes the technology accessible to even the smallest farm.
The seed round was co-led by GoogleX cofounder Tom Chi’s At One Ventures and BDC Capital’s Industrial Innovation Venture Fund. The equity and grant funding round also saw participation from Fulcrum Global Capital and Golden Opportunities Fund, with supporting non-dilutive co-investments coming from Sustainable Development Technology Canada and Protein Industries Canada.
A healthier ecosystem
While Laurie Menoud, Partner at At One Ventures, points to how Precision AI’s technology will minimize toxic runoff to protect waterways and downstream ecology, Joe Regan, managing partner, Industrial Innovation Venture Fund, BDC Capital, says:
Precision AI’s technology will reduce reliance on crop inputs and enable benefits to farmers, the broader food supply chain, and the environment. We are hopeful that Precision AI can be among the next generation of Agtech solutions that change the industry.
McCann says the ultimate goal is to make the farms of the future sustainable and healthier. And the best way to do that is to deploy hives of intelligent drones that will automate and optimize the crop protection process throughout the entire growing season. He sums up:
Using artificial intelligence to target individual weeds is a quantum leap in efficiency and sustainability over today’s practices of an indiscriminate broadcast application of herbicide.