I remember, as a kid, during an art class we were told to draw what we kids think the future would look like. The 10 year old me drew flying cars and robots, just like several other kids who were inspired from sci-fi movies and cartoons. But there was this one kid, who drew a high rise with farms stacked vertically in it. With all the naivety of a kid, I had dismissed the idea and never really thought of it until recently I came across numerous vertical farming companies that exist in reality. Oh Boy.! I am in the future.
It connected the dots for me and that curiosity lead me to reading about them and listening to podcasts about these futuristic farms. Initially, I was reading about this only to satiate my curiosity, but on one such podcast, I heard the guest say “Agriculture is a manufacturing process but it is in fact 10x or even 100x harder than traditional manufacturing….” now THAT piqued my interest as a manufacturing engineer and I went down the rabbit hole of research to discover the world of Agtech.
AgTech is short for Agricultural Technology, using technology to solve the problems in agriculture lies the foundation of AgTech. As a mechanical engineer with no background in agriculture, the only tech I knew of, that was used in agriculture was tractors. Thanks to the internet I was introduced to several such possibilities of using tech in agriculture. The image above does an awesome job of describing some of these options of using tech on an farm.
On the day I started my “research” on AgTech, I started looking at what are some of the leading companies solving agricultural problems. Thinking that it is a niche industry with not too many companies, here is a naïve effort by me trying to map the companies.
Then I came across this brilliant collection of Agtech startups by agfunder on their website. Although not a comprehensive list, it has a diverse mix of companies, ranging from some that determine the microbes in the soil, finding the health of the crop, all the way to autonomous robots used for harvesting, and satellite companies out in space that help the farmer collect data and bring connectivity to rural areas. These broad range of companies and their broad range of solutions makes AgTech so fascinating to me.
By 2050, the population of the world will reach 10 billion and research says not only do we need to increase the amount of food we produce but also the way we produce it. I truly believe that improvements in Agtech can solve that problem and I find it super interesting. As a manufacturing engineer, my interest and curiosity lead me to Agtech and trying to find the parallel between agriculture and manufacturing excites me. There is so much more to learn and explore..