Montreal agricultural startup Motorleaf has closed a $2.85M investment to aid their development of smart agriculture technology.
Motorleaf says it will use this investment to continue building the company’s machine-learning algorithms and environmental grow sensors that predict crop yields for greenhouse-produced vegetables. “A world first,” they call it, their technology enables farmers to use big data from greenhouses to predict the future outputs of their grow operation.
Food-tech accelerator fund Radicle Growth led the round with additional help from Desjardins Capital, Real Ventures, Fluxunit (Osram Ventures), BDC Capital and 500 Startups Canada.
Made possible by new techniques in AI, predicting future yields allows farmers to cut down on hefty costs from producing too much or too little perishable goods. The company also said their hardware and software tools enable growers to use data insights on how best to manage their grow operations.
“Better yield prediction is only the beginning for Motorleaf’s value to this sector,” says Motorleaf CEO Alastair Monk. “We’re ultimately producing dynamic grower protocols, which help manage everything from light and nutrients to predicting crop diseases before they happen, and optimized growing conditions that increase ROI – all based on real-time data.”
Motorleaf pointed out how profit margins in farming are notoriously slim. The company wants to supply Canadian producers with their technology to promote the profitable production of vegetables locally throughout the year. Being able to automate yield prediction will help counter looming labour restraints of a 100,000 person shortage of farmer workers in the country.
Moreover, by providing a digital agronomist, Motorleaf’s yield prediction tools help greenhouse operators meet contract obligations, better plan weekly operations and foresee production capacities in real time.
In initial trials with California greenhouse SunSelect, Motorleaf’s technology led to a 50-percent reduction in yield prediction error in tomatoes. These results were enough for SunSelect to adopt Motorleaf’s algorithms after a short trial. However, yield prediction is just the first step in Motorleaf’s solutions for producers.
“Motorleaf is changing the way we grow in greenhouses and indoors with their application of enabling AI anywhere at any time,” says Radicle Growth CEO Kirk Haney. “Their technology has been proven in vegetable production environments and we are investing this capital to help the company scale.”
“Motorleaf’s ability to apply automation by adding convenient hardware to preexisting greenhouse control systems makes them not only practical, but ready for today’s greenhouse industry,” added Haney. “The next round of solutions coming out of testing only highlight more of the potential insights this technology brings to the table.”
Haney and Lars Roessler from Fluxunit will join Motorleaf’s Board of Directors.