On March 23, 2021, the automation farming startup Augmenta announced closing its $8M Series A round with the support of tractor manufacturer CNH Industrial N.V., EU impact investor Pymwymic, as well as previous investors Marathon Venture Capital and HCVC. The new funding will be invested into research and development, as well as for further expansion of the distribution network of the startup, whose real-time Nitrogen, Plant Growth Regulator (PGR), and Harvest Aid (HA) solutions are now available in 16 countries across Europe, CIS, North and South America, and Australia.
Morten Schmidt, Global Leader of Digital and Precision Solutions and Telematics in the Agriculture Segment of CNH Industrial, shared that the brand is pleased to collaborate with Augmenta as it will give access to its clients to precision automation solutions that enhance productivity and foster sustainability. After the round, the total funding amount of Augmenta is reported to be $11.1M.
Retrofit precision farming solutions
The startup, whose founder and CEO George Varvarelis has Greek origin, is currently based in Paris, France. Augmenta’s solutions, compliant with pre-owned farmer equipment, are used for optimizing nitrogen and chemical fertilizing through a camera-based system that analyzes the foliage status of crops, detecting damaged or flooded field spots. With the help of AI, the system manages a Variable Control (VR) tool to automatically spread the amounts of fertilizers or chemicals a field batch needs, thus optimizing the crop conditions and reducing pollution that arises from excessive pesticide treatment. As noted by the company, their latest analysis shows an average input reduction for broadacre crops (such as oilseeds, wheat, and barley) of 9% when it comes to Nitrogen usage, 20% in terms of Plant Growth Regulators (PGRs) that are usually used to accelerate growth and promote dormancy, as well as a 15% decrease for Harvest Aids (examples of which are herbicides or desiccants). As a result, the average yield increase, achieved using the solutions, is 2%, the company shared.
The technology Augmenta is developing can be of great importance not only because of the greater yields and increased farming efficiency but also because it contributes to sustainable agricultural practices In 2018, 10.2 million tonnes of nitrogen fertilizer was used in EU agriculture, representing an increase of 1.9%, compared to 2008. According to scientists, when this type of fertilizer is applied at a faster rate than plants can absorb, nitrogen is converted by soil bacteria into nitrate, a substance that pollutes the environment and is harmful to human health. With the funding, Augmenta is to focus on developing a spraying system for the Green on Brown (GoB) pesticide with the goal of achieving pesticide usage reduction. The new applications that will be developed by the company are going to be available through over-the-air software updates of the existing solutions.
- CNH Industrial is a global brand that operates in the sectors of agricultural equipment, earth moving equipment, commercial and construction vehicles, engines, and transmissions.
- Pymwymic is a co-owned organization of over 150 European investors that is primarily focused on investing through funds, including the Pymwymic Healthy Ecosystems VC fund aimed at early-stage companies whose solutions could have an impact on the food chain. It has so far invested over $70M.
- MarathonVC – a Greek-based seed-stage VC that manages around $100M for tech companies. Being one of the most active VCs in the Greek ecosystem, it has invested in well-known names such as Netdata, Lenses.io, and Causaly. Marathon VC has been among the first to support Augmenta and led the seed round of the startup back in 2018.
- Hardware Club – focused on tech startups, the VC supports mainly hardtech companies, with its community amounting to over 550 companies in 40 different countries.