TARANIS, an ag-tech startup that uses aerial surveillance and machine learning to help prevent crop-yield loss, said on Wednesday that it has raised US$30 million in a Series C round led by Vertex Growth and Kuok Group’s Orion Fund (managed by K3 Ventures).
New investors in this round include strategic investor Hitachi Ventures as well as Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, Micron Ventures, UMC Capital, La Maison, Mindset Ventures, iAngels and Gal Yarden. Existing investors Vertex Ventures Israel, Viola Ventures, Finistere and OurCrowd also participated in the round.
This brings Taranis’ total fundraise to US$60 million to date.
The startup aims to use the fresh funds to create more relevant "scouting" products for growers through its platform, which is powered by the startup’s proprietary AI2 SmartScout technology. It will also expand its footprint in Asia.
The AI2 SmartScout technology enables farmers to identify crop issues more efficiently, by capturing images of fields at a resolution of 0.3mm/pixel from planes and drones. And it does this at a speed of 100 acres - the size of almost 100 football fields - in six minutes, said the company.
With this technology, Taranis said it can also offer “precise, leaf-level diagnosis 20 times faster than the manual alternative, and with 20 times more data points scouted”, said Ofir Schlam, the startup's chief executive and co-founder.
“Until recently, growers have had to wait on time-consuming manual scouting to assess threats, formulate an action plan and react.”
The technology will also leverage a database of more than a million threat species to create accurate prescription plans to customise treatments and application rates, Taranis said.
“The platform takes out the guesswork and brings hyperlocal, real-time insights from the fields to your fingertips,” said Mr Schlam. He added that the company will be launching new programs that will soon help farmers better predict the threats to their crops and gauge their yields.
During a week-long pilot in Indonesia, the first entry into Asia for Taranis, the company demonstrated “best-in-class capabilities” in identifying specific pests and diseases, said M.X. Kuok, managing director of K3 Ventures.
Tam Hock Chuan, managing director of Vertex Growth, agreed, saying: “The adoption of Taranis’ solutions will help growers and crop consultants to detect, analyse and treat crop issues at their earliest signs, taking preventive measures with unprecedented precision.
“This will give them a higher degree of control over their crop yield than ever before, particularly relevant in Asia where the agriculture sector has a relatively lower yield per hectare compared to global benchmarks.”
In addition, the ag-tech market will soon see consolidation around imagery and vision AI, with just a few strong players remaining, said Mr Tam. “We firmly believe that Taranis’ unique technology will lead the pack.”
To date, Taranis has inked partnerships with various retail, ag-equipment and crop-protection companies, including John Deere, Syngenta, Nutrien, Climate Corp and BASF. Taranis’ technology has also scouted more than two million acres of commodity crops across the world, which it said forms “the industry’s most comprehensive knowledge base of crop threats”.