Blog | 8.03.2023
Cracking The Plant Code to Support the Amazing Growers Providing the World with Fruit & Vegetables
March 8th, 2023
Inside Source.ag’s Series A, with Rien Kamman
When we founded Source.ag a little over two years ago, we could not have imagined that we’d grow so quickly to have a team of 70 of the most talented minds in agriculture, artificial intelligence and plant science. Nor did we realize we’d have a team that would catapult themselves so directly into creating real-world applied A.I. to help produce more fresh fruit and vegetables to aid the global food security challenges of our century.
Yet here we are, and in only a few short years, we’ve managed to do what everyone said was impossible in greenhouse agriculture. For the technically minded, it means we’ve cracked standardization, data gathering at scale, and plant phenotyping which has enabled us to build A.I. models that can simulate plant biology and help to optimize photosynthesis.
In other words, it means that we’re now in a better position than ever before to help the silent heroes that feed this world: the fresh produce growers, who are the true ‘plant masters’ in this equation. And with the investment that we announced a few weeks ago - a $23 million Series A funding round - we can now put the power of A.I. into the hands of growers worldwide to help feed more people, without breaking our planetary boundaries.
The Netherlands is Uniquely Positioned to Help
Technologies such as our algorithms are making it possible to get the maximum potential out of both the seed genetics and the farming methods growers have available. Why is it important? Well, while the global demand for greenhouse agriculture is rising, its growth has been very much hindered by the high dependency on, and the growing shortage of, experienced growers to operate these facilities. In addition, growers worldwide are being presented with unprecedented economic, and climate-based challenges, particularly over the past few years. If there was ever a time to accelerate and share the innovation we’ve already seen amongst growers in the Netherlands, that time is now.
Growers in the Netherlands are widely recognized as highly experienced and knowledgeable. They’re aware of their unique position in the global effort to improve food security. We are extremely proud to be working together with these Dutch master growers in creating the A.I. platform that will empower growers globally, and bring out the best in their crops, wherever they may be operating.
As one of Europe’s largest fresh fruit and vegetable producers, the country has enormous expertise and is taking the lead in food tech and sustainability. We are proud to be playing a part in this, and we are committed to supporting both new and existing growers, and providing them with a real, hands-on, applied A.I. solution to both the short and long-term optimization of their season’s growth.
We call this ‘dual horizon optimization’, but at the end of the day, it’s one of many transformations that will help achieve the goal of ending hidden hunger, which is a challenge that is still very real. We are nowhere near where we should be in ensuring food security, and, according to the UN, fruits and vegetables are still unavailable for many, with 3 billion people around the world unable to access diverse healthy diets. Now more than ever, growers need our help if they are going to increase the food supply of fruits and vegetables to help feed the world.
An Investment in A.I That Empowers Growers, for Safer, More Reliable and Climate-Resilient food production
While we can’t claim our technology is a silver bullet, we can help growers to grow more food locally anywhere in the world, in a much more cost-efficient, climate-resilient manner. Greenhouses have already been used for decades, and they are a proven efficient, beautiful way of growing food. They are also a highly climate-resilient solution, requiring only a fraction of the water of traditional agriculture while producing yields of up to 15 times higher.
However, greenhouses are complex to operate. Growers have to make decisions on many, many determining factors of varying complexity, balancing what may seem sub-optimal today, with what can actually be beneficial for the rest of their season. It can often seem like a game of chess, and this is where we have focused our efforts: through expanding our algorithms, we can monitor greenhouse circumstances and give growers dynamic advice based on what is really happening. Instead of relying on historical data, growers can look at real-time data and advanced simulations to make the best choices and maximize the health and production of their plants.
It’s only through continued innovation like this that we’ll see robust, scalable growth in greenhouse agriculture, helping our growers to augment what they grow, and get more food to more people.
Speaking of People…
This new stage of growth wouldn’t have been possible without the exceptional team we have at Source.ag.
We’ve got an unparalleled culture of engagement, with people highly dedicated to applying their past professional experience to support master growers in helping to put more fruits and vegetables on tables. They’ve jumped on an enormous opportunity to do something good for the world, and while they take the work very seriously, they don’t take themselves very seriously - which makes for a wonderful working environment for everyone.
And with the investment that we have announced last month, we now have the support to continue to build our team. We look forward to the next leg of our journey in continuing to support the world’s growers as we proactively tackle the food security challenges with creativity, compassion, and cutting-edge A.I.