TEL AVIV, Israel, May 04, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Taranis, a precision agriculture intelligence platform, today announced it has closed a $7.5 million Series A round of financing led by Finistere Ventures, an AgTech venture pioneer, and Vertex Ventures. Existing investors, Eshbol Investments, Mindset Ventures, OurCrowd, and angel investor Eyal Gura, also joined the round. With $9.5 million in total funding to date, Taranis aims to lead the digital farming revolution by giving farmers around the globe the ability to predict and prevent detrimental threats to their crops—and bottom line.
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Today, the Ag industry loses more than $300 billion each year due to crop diseases and pests. Pests and diseases can destroy crops and devastate farmers’ agricultural yield, but chemical overuse comes with its own set of challenges, including pesticide-resistant disease strains. Meanwhile, rising temperatures and increasing levels of carbon dioxide create more challenges for farmers as crop pests and disease thrive in hot, CO2-rich environments, and farmers around the globe also need to prepare for the surge of erratic weather patterns and damaging extreme weather that can lead to crop losses exceeding 90 percent. Taranis is pushing farmers to rethink how they approach crop disease and pest control, as well as how they prepare for and address weather concerns— and helping them increase profits by more than 15 percent in the process.
“The way farmers farm may be slowly changing, but the surge in farm technology does not always equate to better, or easier, farming practices. Farmers of all sizes need better access to weather and field data, and Taranis offers an encouraging field monitoring platform, that is also affordable,” noted Brent Smith, vice president of proprietary technology and innovation at Agrium. “Taranis’ platform uses all existing data sources and precise, sub-millimeter imagery to accurately predict and alert farmers to upcoming crop threats. Taranis can also scale to include more proprietary prediction models as threats evolve, so farmers can make proactive in-season decisions to affect their crops before they suffer potential adverse effects.”
Growing its acreage by 2,000 percent in one year and now managing millions of acres of farmland in the Argentina, Brazil, Israel, Russia and the United States, Taranis offers the first scalable, predictive analytics solution to predict crop threats and prevent them in any climate zone. Presenting precise information about fields, daily tasks, crop disease/pest and weather alerts based on its advanced forecasting and now-casting technologies, the proprietary Taranis deep learning platform helps large commercial farmers around the globe reduce costs, increase yield and speed farming decisions. With Taranis, farmers can minimize chemical and pesticide usage by pinpointing where and when they are needed – saving farmers money, while creating a more sustainable farming ecosystem. The Taranis platform currently monitors fields for critical crops such as soybeans, corn, wheat, cotton, sugar cane and potatoes.
“Farmers are currently faced with poor commodity prices and want to manage their costs – from crop protection to fertilizer – more effectively. We believe higher resolution, real-time data is requirement for the digital farming revolution, but new solutions have to pay for themselves rapidly,” said Arama Kukutai, co-founder and partner, Finistere Ventures. “Taranis is taking the next generation of technology for farmers well beyond simply being able to look at a field. Taranis can capture imagery of a specific mite on a leaf going 70 mph from 200 feet above ground.”
Taranis will use the latest investment to further mature its scalable pest and disease prediction platform and substantially grow its global reach, with a focus on building U.S. momentum where farms contribute $136.7 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP). In fact, the NEEF notes that while the U.S. agriculture sector produces approximately $300 billion per year in commodities, weeds, insects and disease cause costly crop production losses.
“We invest in innovators with the ability to transform an industry and were drawn to Taranis’ exceptional leadership team, machine learning expertise, proven analytics platform and early on-farm successes,” noted Yanai Oron, general partner, Vertex. “Taranis offers a comprehensive and affordable crop management solution, and the pest and disease prediction algorithms it developed set the company apart from its competitors.”
Using deep learning to continually improve accuracy, the Taranis platform integrates with a variety of sensors for additional data and takes scouting and task management into account. Its patented aerial imagery technology can cover expansive areas from high-speed UAVs and crop dusters at an unprecedented resolution, 0.5mm per pixel, which is more than 500x more detailed than existing monitoring platforms. Taranis also runs its own weather prediction model that can accurately forecast field-level weather patterns at 4km per pixel, an enormous improvement over current global models delivering forecasts at 26km per pixel.
Led by an expert team with decades of experience in farming, technology innovation, machine learning, advanced anomaly detection and meteorological systems, Taranis will also use the funding to expand its plant pathology, data science and software engineering teams. Headquartered in Israel with subsidiaries in Argentina and Brazil, Taranis is currently establishing a U.S. office and expanding into India and Russia.
“Our predictive analytics platform monitors all aspects of field conditions in real time and sends early warnings to farmers to help them protect their crops,” said Taranis CEO Ofir Schlam. “We want to make it easier for farmers anywhere, in any climate, to predict and overcome potential crop threats. This investment will help us build the right distribution channels and find the best talent to ensure we fulfill our precision Ag vision.”
To support its rapid growth plans, Arama Kukutai, Finistere Ventures, and Yanai Oron, Vertex Ventures, will join the Taranis Board.
Taranis is a precision agriculture intelligence platform that helps farmers increase their yields and cut costs by giving them a way to effectively monitor their fields, make informed decisions and then act on them. Taranis uses deep learning on proprietary data sets that includes sub-mm aerial imagery, field sensors, satellite imagery, weather forecast and data from its field scouting app to predict and prevent losses from crop disease and pests. Learn more at www.taranis.ag.
About Finistere Ventures
Finistere Ventures is a leading California-based agricultural technology and life sciences venture capital investor, with offices in Palo Alto and San Diego. Its team has developed and invested in some of the most successful AgTech companies of the last 20 years. Visit Finistere.com.
About Vertex Ventures Israel
Vertex Ventures is a leading global venture capital group supporting entrepreneurs to transform their innovative ideas into world-class businesses. With cumulative committed capital in excess of $2.5 billion, Vertex invests in early-stage IT and healthcare opportunities in China, Silicon Valley, India, Israel, and South East Asia. Since 1988, Vertex is honored to have partnered with the founders of global leaders such as Waze, 91, Grab, IGG, CyberArk, Reebonz, SolarEdge, Force10, FirstCry, Yatra and Changba. Vertex Ventures Israel is one of the pillars of the Vertex Group’s network of Funds focusing on early stage opportunities in the Information Technology sector in Israel. Learn more at www.vertexventures.com/israel.