Agritech robotics startup TartanSense has raised $5 Mn in Series A funding. The round was led by FMC Ventures and Omnivore, with participation from existing investor Blume Ventures. This brings the total funds raised by the company to $7 Mn, after raising a $2 Mn seed round in March 2019.
Founded in 2015 by Jaisimha Rao, an alumnus of Carnegie Mellon University, TartanSense builds small agricultural robots, equipped with AI-assisted computer vision, to help small farmers reduce their expenditure and improve their incomes.
According to a statement by the company, BladeRunner, TartanSense’s latest robot, can identify, precisely locate, and mechanically uproot undesirable weeds as well as spot spray on the desired crop – reducing chemical usage by 45% as well as increasing weeding efficiency by 7 times.
Jaisimha Rao, founder, TartanSense, said, “Our mission is to make smallholder farmers wealthier by shipping monetizable robots. TartanSense will have the world’s largest fleet of agriculture robots in the next 18 months.”
Now, as per the same report, India is the largest grower of cotton in the world, with 33 Mn acres under cultivation and an average weeding spend of $100 per acre. The market potential only for weeding in cotton is over $3 Bn annually. TartanSense aims to focus on cotton as well as several other crops that have a high cost of weeding.
Even the company’s first product, BrijBot, was initially introduced in the country’s two largest cotton manufacturing states, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Agritech startups are increasingly stepping in to save income, lives and livelihoods in India’s agricultural sector. While supply chain is one of the biggest inefficiencies in farming, intelligence about crops, fertilisers, climate and soil are also key. This not only increases the input cost, but also the chemical residue from fertilisers can affect the crop, and it can even be present in the food that we consume.
Leveraging technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), internet of things (IoT), analytics and blockchain becomes crucial for the farming industry in this regard. It not only promotes intelligent agriculture, but also cuts down their stake and input cost by 40-60%, thereby increasing their saving, yield and protecting the fertility of the land.
According to MarketsAndMarkets, the AI in the agriculture market is expected to reach $4 Bn by 2026, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.5%, from $1 Bn in 2020. The major driving factors of AI in agriculture include growing demand for food, and dwindling natural resources.