San Francisco-based agtech startup Arable has set out to provide agricultural leaders with the information they need to survive rapidly changing climate conditions. The company outfits farms around the world with intuitive technology intended to help growers foster more sustainable farming methods and utilize their land to its fullest potential.
The startup announced Thursday that it raked in $20 million in a Series B round to expand its efforts to support sustainability in the agricultural industry, a space that currently accounts for an estimated 24 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
“We are at a crucial turning point not just for agriculture as an industry, but for the entire food system and the planet,” Jim Ethington, CEO of Arable, said in a statement. “The challenge before us is how to increase agricultural productivity, efficiency, and sustainability at the same time. I firmly believe the most promising solution lies in using modern data technologies to better understand crop systems and empower growers.”
The new funding will go toward making continuous improvements to Arable’s suite of sustainable farming technology. In addition, the company will continue to expand the use of its technology outside the United States. The company has already had recent success partnering with farmers in Brazil, Chile and Australia.
Arable’s spectral and thermal sensors provide producers with real-time information about crops at the plant, field, and region level. According to Ethington, one of the company’s clients reduced their water usage by 38 percent following the implementation of Arable’s technology.
“Our products have the potential and have already shown the ability to really empower farmers to manage their crop more efficiently and effectively, to make more optimized decisions and use those decisions to create better outcomes both for their operation and for the environment,” Ethington said in an interview with Built In.
In California, Arable’s technology is used to yield hefty amounts of wine grapes, almonds, tomatoes, potatoes and more.
Arable’s in-field sensing devices are primarily used to monitor the weather, specifically details regarding rainfall, temperature, humidity and solar radiation. These same devices are also outfitted with spectral sensors that monitor what plants are physically doing and how they’re reacting to their environment.
“Many of our customers are getting information from satellites, or airplanes or drones that are flying over their fields, and while that information is useful, it doesn't come all that frequently and sometimes it can be hard to trust the consistency or the reliability of it,” Ethington said. “With [our products] we’re adding elements that those systems lack, which is continuous, high-precision measurements. We have close-up eyes on the field all the time.”
Arable’s crop modeling system is responsible for gathering the data acquired by the devices and using it to determine key factors like how fast a crop is growing, how much water it needs, or whether or not its soil is lacking nutrients. That data is then translated and communicated to growers via the company’s mobile app.
For Ethington, climate change has been top of mind following the “catastrophic” recent wildfire seasons in California. But he remains invested in the future of the planet not just for the sake of his business, but for the continued prosperity of future generations.
“I always think about what kind of world we’re leaving for our kids,” Ethington said. “I have three young children and I always wonder.... Is it going to be a world driven by chaos? Or can we leave behind a world that they can enjoy and thrive in?”
The round was led by Prelude Ventures along with new investors M20, Nassau Street Ventures and Tridon.