An agriculture technology company producing sensors and analytical software for farmers in Europe and the US is deliberately targeting smaller farmers with its equipment.
Farm Dog, the Israel-based start-up which has just started looking for seed funding, has started pilot projects of its sensors and platform which chief executive Liron Brish believes are cheaper than other options in the market at $24.99 a month for 25 soil sensors, four climate units and access to Farm Dog’s dashboard.
“We want to democratise data for the smaller farm,” he told Agri Investor. “A lot of the agriculture data services out there are geared towards huge farmers in the US and Europe and are prohibitively expensive, essentially pricing out the smaller farms from the benefits of the agricultural data revolution. And when we started talking to a lot of smaller farmers with 150 hectares and less in Europe and 500 acres and less in the US and understood their demands, we realised there was indeed a gap in the market for more affordable equipment.”
When you recognise that there are almost 8 million smaller farms in Europe and 2 million small farmers in the US that account for around $125 billion in agricultural output and $100 billion in equipment used per year, “the magnitude of the market gap is extraordinary”, argued Brish pointing to statistics from the 2008 and 2003 Census of Agriculture where 51 percent of farmers in the Western Corn Belt said cost was the barrier to making precision agriculture improvements.
The company aims to send farmers a box of around 40 sensors each that can measure soil moisture, air temperature, solar radiation and more and send the data to Farm Dog’s dashboard. And the company decided to go with so many sensors because smaller farmers produce a wider variety of different crop types than larger farmers that typically mass-produce a single crop each year.
Farm Dog doesn’t pretend that the sensors are top grade; they can reach 5 percent in accuracy, but its backend algorithms and analytics are designed to cope with this level of accuracy and provide farmers with a good enough overall picture of their land.
“We are taking a different approach to some and instead of giving you two to four very accurate research-grade sensors, we are giving you 40 sensors that are good enough and can be used across a much wider space,” he said. “It’s like buying one Mercedes or 40 Hyundais.”
Selling sensor equipment isn’t the company’s end goal; it wants to be a data insights company and doesn’t plan to sell hardware for the long term but needed to start this way to ensure smaller farmers were able to get hold of the equipment they needed.