Ag-tech startup SwarmFarm has raised $12 million to support development of autonomous farming robots and software systems to improve agricultural output and efficiency.
Based in Gindie, in Queensland, the company is taking a first-principles approach to the digital transformation of farming. They’re not just retrofitting existing machinery to be self-driving, they’re rethinking how technology and machinery can operate in a unique context, and with a lower impact.
“There is enormous demand for autonomy in agriculture, but today, most solutions unlock minimal potential,” said SwarmFarm CEO Andrew Bate.
“The current equipment providers believe that farmers just want to be plucked from the cab or replaced by robotic arms. We believe that farmers want more. They want a technology ecosystem built to address the issues in their locality, a farm-centric system that leaves the lowest possible footprint on their fields, helping them do more with less. They want Integrated Autonomy, so that’s what we’re building.”
The Series A funding round was led by Conexus Venture Capital from Canada, as well as Tribe Global Ventures and Access Capital.
Also joining the round are SwarmFarm’s existing investors, including Tenacious Ventures, and GrainInnovate, the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) venture capital fund managed by Artesian.
The company currently has ‘SwarmBots’ deployed on 1.3 million acres of commercial farmland, having operated 64,000 hours and reduced pesticide inputs by an estimated 780 tons.
The company’s ethos has remained decidedly regional. They’re still located in a QLD farming region, rather than migrating to an inner-city climate-tech hub.
“We envision a future where the most promising minds in technology are encouraged to turn toward solving the challenges faced by modern agriculture,” Bate said.
“We also believe in a future where there is no longer such a severe distinction between farmers and technologists, but rather a new breed of farmer-technologists. This funding helps us to move toward that future by meeting more of the global demand for our product and facilitating the growth of our SwarmConnect network of developers.”