Agri Tech Trends to Watch in 2021 and Beyond
The agri tech sector is abuzz with innovation. Advances in agri-tech are not only making farmers' lives easier; they're creating cleaner, more efficient systems of food production, benefiting the planet and its people.
Right now, agri tech is a lucrative sector to be in. Interest is high, with investments of almost $20 billion secured by agri tech firms in 2019. (AgriInvestor)
Recently, Finnish startup, iFarm, received $4m to develop its indoor farming technology, while data-led vegetable seed provider Unfold amassed an investment of $30 million to expand its portfolio. (Crunchbase)
For those embracing innovation within agri tech, there are many opportunities. Here are some agri tech trends to watch.
Agri tech trend #1: Precision farming
Precision farming - the collection of data to make strategic decisions to boost crop yields (McCormick) - is becoming increasingly sophisticated, thanks to advances in remote sensing and drone mapping technologies.
Drone mapping is allowing farmers to understand conditions on the field whilst reducing the time it takes to visually and manually inspect them. Sophisticated drones can provide information on plant health, land elevation and thermal data, feeding automated insights back to the end-user.
As Business Insider explains: “Drones have revolutionized agriculture by offering farmers major cost savings, enhanced efficiency, and more profitability […] The ability to collect and analyze this data in real-time has tangible outcomes for farmers such as better crop yield, fewer resources expended on weeds and herbicides, and overall improved management decisions.”
Using drone insights, farmers can make more informed decisions about actions to take on their land. However, it's worth noting that no technology has surpassed the accuracy of visual inspection - yet.
Remote sensing is now being used to acquire information about farm and croplands by measuring radiation emissions like near infra-red, visible light, shortwave infrared and thermal infrared. (Roboticsbiz)
This gives data about land and crop conditions on a micro-scale, allowing detailed insights and informing future actions.
Agri tech trend #2: Autonomous tractors
Uptake of autonomous equipment like tractors is projected to be widespread by 2031, reaching a market valuation of $150 billion.
Autonomous tractors can complete automated time and labour-intensive processes like grain handling and harvesting, and can be controlled remotely.
This is anticipated to transform farming as we know it, with the many benefits including a 24/7 work capability, freeing up skilled labour and reducing farmer workloads.
Autonomous equipment also has the benefit of recording and communicating land data, working in tandem with other forms of precision farming technology for greater efficiency. (FutureFarming)
Agri tech trend #3: Low-power vertical farming
Vertical indoor farming is already addressing some of the climate issues associated with traditional outdoor farming, including deforestation. But the methods used are set to become much more refined in the years to come.
Indoor farming relies heavily on LED lighting, with the associated energy expenses resulting in hefty lighting bills for farmers. Agri tech companies are now looking at ways to reduce power whilst maintaining performance.
One such company is Dundee-based vertical farming firm, Intelligent Growth Solutions. They have developed a unique process that “uses three-phase electricity and also clusters the LEDs into colours and wavelengths" to increase yield.
As CEO, David Farquhar, explains: “By being extremely precise and giving the plants only the parts of the spectrum they need, we can reduce the amount of power we need. So we only need 50 percent of the amount of energy that vertical farms generally require.” (The Herald)
With so many innovations happening in agri tech, it's easy for companies to be overlooked. But with the right agricultural marketing approach, it will be easier to be discovered by investors and prospective clients.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to agricultural marketing. Marketing activity should very much depend on the type of agri tech business you run and the unique problems your product or service solves.
However, there are a few agricultural marketing actions that will benefit most agri tech businesses.
Agricultural marketing tip #1: Explain your innovation
What problem are you helping to solve? How does your solution work? Who would benefit from your solution? When you're explaining your innovation, take a zoom-out/zoom-in approach.
Start with a general overview, which gets straight to the point and explains the purpose of your solution. Then, get granular, explaining your solution’s nitty-gritty details. That way, people will find it easier to understand the benefits of your product or service.
This is a principle that can be applied to website copy, sales materials and even investment pitches.
Agricultural marketing tip #2: Explain your vision
Often, getting people interested in your agri tech solution isn't just about convincing them that your product or service will help them. It's about engaging them with your brand and getting them excited about being a part of your journey.
To achieve that, explain your company's vision. What inspired you to start the company? What excites you about your current trajectory? Where are you heading next? Tell your brand story, and you'll see a much more enthusiastic response.
Agricultural marketing tip #3: Connect with the right people
It's all very well listing companies you'd like to connect with, but who are the decision-makers within those companies? Those are the people you should spend your time focussing upon.
Start with a small list of target contacts, and then develop ways to connect. This could be as simple as connecting on LinkedIn, but you can also develop finely crafted and personalised marketing material to pique interest and incentivise a meeting.
Agricultural marketing tip #4: Track your interactions
If you're trying to connect with multiple investor or client contacts, it can be hard to keep track of all your interactions.
By using a well-implemented CRM strategy, you can make the most of all your connections and monitor progress from a central location. That way, you'll know which leads are worth pursuing so that you can focus your energy and resources on these areas.
There are many opportunities within the agri tech sector. Agricultural marketing can help agri tech firms to reach investors and new clients. Using a template approach to marketing won't work; instead, a well-considered and highly bespoke strategy will help to improve results.
Want support with agricultural marketing? Get in touch with the Moment team.