Agtonomy Wants to Help Farmers Feed the World

The company is in the process of commercializing its solution that automates repetitive farming tasks.

Written by Ashley Bowden
Published on Nov. 30, 2022
Agtonomy Wants to Help Farmers Feed the World
Agtonomy CEO Tim Bucher poses for a photo outdoors
Tim Bucher, CEO and founder of Agtonomy. | Photo: Agtonomy

Sure the latest initiatives from the Teslas, Apples and Googles of the industry tend to dominate the tech news space — and with good reason. Still, the tech titans aren’t the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.

In an effort to highlight up-and-coming startups, Built In has launched The Future 5 across eight major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five tech startups, nonprofits or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing. You can check out last quarter’s San Francisco round-up here.

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Our world is projected to have well over 9 billion people living in it by 2050, according to the United Nations. That’s a lot of mouths to feed, and the population’s growing size only increases our dependency on the agriculture industry.

To ensure farmers will be capable of feeding the world, Tim Bucher created Agtonomy. The startup’s hybrid autonomy platform for field equipment aims to make farming more sustainable. 

Bucher grew up on a dairy farm and later formed a career as an entrepreneur in the tech world. When Bucher was 16 years old he cultivated what is now Trattore Farms, an expansive vineyard and olive mill in Northern California. He also earned several engineering degrees from institutions such as Stanford University and the University of California, Davis.

Agtonomy combines Bucher’s passions for technology and agriculture. The idea for the startup sprang from the need for a modern solution that could benefit his own farm in the face of growing operation costs and an absence of skilled labor. 

The result was a software and service solution that can integrate with tractors and other equipment and offer farmers a helping hand.

Agtonomy’s platform equips vehicles with manual, remote control and autonomous operation settings to assist with tasks like mowing, spraying and weeding crops. In addition to this and its navigation capabilities, Agtonomy’s system assists with automatically refilling tanks for continually operative machinery as they use up materials and energy. 

“When you think of autonomous equipment of any type, people tend to think about navigational autonomy. We did start there but rather quickly realized autonomy in [agriculture] means way more than just traversing from point A to point B,” Bucher, Agtonomy’s CEO, told Built In via email. “After all, farmers don’t care if you successfully navigated from point A to point B and didn’t do the ‘workload’ of spraying that crop the right way. It’s the task done right they care about the most.”

While it’s important to ensure tasks are completed correctly, farmers’ safety is also top of mind for Agtonomy. The startup designed its solution to mitigate common perils within the agriculture industry, such as dangerous equipment and unpredictable terrain. 

We believe we have one of the most powerful and capable solutions that will help farmers of all sizes do more with less.”

By keeping farmers safe and their fields well-tended, Agtonomy hopes to close the agriculture industry’s labor gap and keep people fed. In recent years, food prices have risen due to factors like climate change and pandemic-induced labor shortages. Agtonomy has positioned itself to help with these present-day problems to create a sustainable future.

“We believe we have one of the most powerful and capable solutions that will help farmers of all sizes do more with less, allowing them to stay in business and farm in a more climate-smart way,” Bucher said. 

The startup currently has some demonstration vehicles in use, but it is not yet active with customers. Having already proven its solution’s worth by way of its recent seed funding, Agtonomy is in the process of starting customer trials in partnership with original equipment manufacturers as it works toward commercializing its tech. 

“Our vision for the future is to see technology-smart farms that thrive through sustainable practices,” Bucher said. “We are quickly moving toward trials and can’t wait to showcase how the solutions we are developing will allow for a sustainable future — environmentally, economically and socially — so that we can play a part in ensuring that the world’s growing population can be fed with good food.”

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