Company

Taranis — Empowering Farmers With Actionable Insights

By Gayathri (G) Radhakrishnan - 2020-07-28

Agriculture supports the 7.8 billion humans living on Earth today. Agricultural yield has to go up by 70% to support the population growth of the future.

But farmers are facing a multitude of challenges from climate change, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, and reduced land and labor due to urbanization. Every single grain matters, and technology that can help farmers protect their crops and improve their yields is of immense value.

Micron Ventures is excited to be a part of this agricultural revolution through our investment in Taranis.

Taranis offers a complete digital agronomy solution to support farmers in protecting their crops and making informed decisions on crop health. In a market that appears to be very crowded, Taranis’s technology solution and approach to scaling drew us to the company.

Protecting Crops

As someone who has successfully managed to kill a cactus among other plants, I can vouch that growing plants is no easy task. Threats abound —pests, weeds, water regulation and soil nutrients — and the list seems endless. A little preemptive warning can go a long way to help prevent large-scale crop destruction and yield loss by these villains!

Solutions in the market today range from manual scouting of farms — think of this as sampling the crops at various parts of a field to check for any indications — to precision agriculture solutions that use sensor and imaging data to identify and precisely treat crop threats.

Technology: Getting to Leaf-Level Visibility

Unlike me, who aspires to a green thumb, Ofir Schlam, CEO and co-founder of Taranis, comes from a fourth-generation farming family in Israel and was driven by a passion to apply technology to farming. He and Amihay Gornik, co-founder and VP Hardware, developed a novel technology to get to submillimeter-level resolution from low-altitude imagery.

Taranis uses a payload that can be affixed to drones and smaller planes to capture high-quality leaf level imagery. This payload is made with off-the-shelf components that are integrated according to a patented HW design and loaded with proprietary software. Taranis adds layers of data, including satellite imagery, to get daily updates. In the event of any adverse conditions such as pest or nutrient deficiency, areas can be detected for immediate treatment.

Combining the imagery with machine learning allows Taranis to not only spot issues sooner but also identify the source and nature of the threat. This approach helps the farmer to precisely treat the problem — whether the fix is targeting the application of pesticides or addressing nutrient deficiency in a specific zone on the farm. Taranis helps create custom prescriptions that are sent to farm machinery to spray only if and where needed based on the leaf-by-leaf, plant-by-plant automatic diagnostic done via AI.

 

Going to Market and Scaling Up

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, 20% to 40% of crops are lost to pests and diseases and the effect on commodity crops —rice, corn, wheat, sugar and others — can have a drastic impact on global food security. Taranis is initially targeting the commodity crop market and selling to both farmers and agronomists. It is already selling to large farms in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Russia, Ukraine and Australia, both directly and through a strong partner network.

With the current funding round, we look forward to Taranis expanding its scouting capabilities further while also increasing its footprint of good for the agriculture industry.

Check out the Taranis website to learn more!

Gayathri (G) Radhakrishnan

G is currently with the investment team at Micron Ventures, investing from our $100M AI fund. She invests in startups that are leveragingAI/ML to solve critical problems in the areas of Manufacturing, Healthcare, Automotive and AgTech. She brings 20 years of multi-disciplinary experience across product management, product marketing, corporate strategy, M&A and venture investments in both startups and Fortune 500 companies like Dell & Corning. She has also worked as an early stage investor at Earlybird Venture Capital, a premier European venture capital fund based in Germany. She has a Masters in EE from The Ohio State University and MBA from INSEAD in France. She is also a Kauffman Fellow.

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