Precision Ag has been the hot topic in the AgTech sector, particularly with the acquisition of the first “ag unicorn” (Climate Corp. acquired Monsanto) and the subsequent gold rush of new Digital Ag startups. As farmers face lower commodity prices and thinning profit margins, a plethora of startups are now attempting to persuade farmers they can deliver more value per acre.
Silicon Valley investors have been at the forefront of this expansion, but Precision Ag is not an overnight phenomenon. Established industry players such as John Deere and IBM have been engaged in smart-farm equipment development and software integration for large-scale farms for years and, more recently, web and mobile-based tools. What is new is that venture capitalists and entrepreneurs have turned their attention to agriculture in a big way. AgFunder, an online investment marketplace that matches investors with AgTech companies, expects the investment trend to top $3 billion in 2016.