Farmbot fundraise illustrates demand for water saving solutions

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Image: Farmbot is striving to maintain a 100% year-on-year growth rate with over 20,000 sensors in the field, it says
Image: Farmbot is striving to maintain a 100% year-on-year growth rate with over 20,000 sensors in the field, it says

Related tags Water conservation Precision agriculture

As water scarcity intensifies and environmental pressures mount, smart water management is becoming essential for ensuring the sustainability and productivity of agriculture. Leveraging data, technology, and best practices can help farmers grow more with less water while protecting natural resources.

Australian company Farmbot provides remote monitoring solutions for the agriculture industry, focusing on water management.

On any time on any given day, explains Farmbot MD and co-founder Andrew Coppin, “hundreds of thousands of farmers are driving around checking water for agriculture that 95% of the time doesn't need checking, but they're doing it for the 5% of times that it does.

“So the core problem we are solving is the huge hidden expense that exists in agriculture of people driving to check things that actually don't need checking.”

Farmbot offers a remote water monitoring system that uses IoT sensors and satellite connectivity to provide real-time data and alerts (via text message or email) on the likes of water levels, usage, and infrastructure issues. 

The platform allows farmers to remotely monitor their water tanks, pumps, and other water assets from their devices and avoid, in Coppin’s words, "the idiocy of driving to check water - which is what we've been doing for the last 50 years."

Farmbot's solutions are designed to help farmers save time, reduce water waste, and have greater peace of mind by being able to quickly address issues before they become major problems, especially in remote or hard-to-access areas.

The solutions are particularly useful for animal management, Coppin explained.

“If you're growing pecans, nuts or grapes maybe you can live with a water leak for a day. But if you're growing cows or sheep, the only time to now you've got a problem is right now." 

Cattle are at risk of heat stress in high temperatures, for example. "One day at 100 degrees without water is potentially terminal for young cattle."

US offers a ‘significant’ market opportunity

Farmbot has just successfully completed a capital raise to fund its growth objectives in Australia and the US where it has recently launched subsidiary, Ranchbot – with the US representing a significant market opportunity, tenfold the size of Australia’s.  

With the support from existing shareholders Telstra and Macdoch Ventures, as well as other shareholders and new investors the firm have completed a successful capital raise of A$4.6 million, which was upscaled from an initial target of A$3million. The capital raise also had the support of several high-net-worth US investors from the ranching sector and some senior executives of the firm.  

“Securing this capital raise has built the bridge to our next phase of growth,” Coppin said. “This significant equity will allow Farmbot to fulfil its growth aspirations both here in Australia and accelerate our growth of the American subsidiary.”

It comes as water conservation grows in importance. “In places like Arizona they've had two inches of rain so far this year,” Coppin said. “They are highly reliant on subterranean water and water storage, which means you need to know how much you've got and how long you're going to be able to last in a drought.”

In Australia, Farmbot is currently used on over 3,500 farms and stations and employs a team of 70 people, including 20 staff employed in R&D and manufacturing on the ground in its Sydney-based head office. In the USA, Ranchbot has established a team of 12 people.  

“Water is agriculture’s most critical asset and checking and monitoring water sources can be a huge hidden expense in farming and ranching operations,” stressed Coppin.

“Some users some have up to 500 devices on a property. Imagine the costs of driving to check 500 locations. That would cost thousands in labour, time and fuel and wear and tear. Users tell us it's an amazing saving on time, money and peace of mind.”

Expanding from water to other on farm infrastructure tools

The company says the capital raise is not only beneficial to the immediate growth of the firm’s products but is fundamental in expanding the company’s focus from water to other on farm infrastructure tools and natural capital. With these funds, Farmbot and Ranchbot can continue to work with collaborators to consider the measurement and verification of Natural Capital Assets like water, soil, pasture and biodiversity. 

“Farmbot's success story began with the drive to effectively manage water. Now, as we expand, our aim is to become a preferred destination for tech-driven farm management solutions providing deeper insights and comprehensive tools for smart decision-making.” 

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