Mar 14, 2022 - Economy

A $27M bet on smart irrigation tech

Animated illustration of a droplet of water eroding the center of a stack of hundred dollar bills.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Tel Aviv-based SupPlant, an ag-tech startup that makes smart sensors for crops, raised $27m in Series A funding, the company told Axios.

Why it matters: Agricultural firms often find themselves on the front lines of climate crises from unusual freeze events to scorching temperatures. Managing crop irrigation with predictive software could insulate the $1t industry from potential future shocks.

What's happening: Red Dot Capital led the round with participation from Menomadin Foundation, Smart-Agro Fund, Mivtah Shamir, Deshpande Foundation, PBFS and Maor Investments.

  • SupPlant has raised $46m in private funding to date. The valuation for its most recent round was undisclosed.

The big picture: SupPlant claims to improve crop yields during major weather events using its data on plant stressors and irrigation recommendations, CEO Ori Ben Ner told Axios.

  • It places sensors in five places on a specific plant to monitor sugar levels and other indicators of plant stress.
  • It then recommends an irrigation schedule to farmers using its existing database, saving them water costs and improving the chances of a successful harvest.
  • Ben Ner said SupPlant's technology works with 33 different crops, including wine grapes, palm dates and citrus.

Yes, but: Water remains one of the most limiting factors among agriculture, especially in drought-plagued regions like California.

  • Managing irrigation only works when farms are allocated water from state management agencies, and agriculture is typically targeted first for cuts in favor of urban residential use.

Our thought bubble: SupPlant's initial claims that it could reduce irrigation needs by nearly 70% in some areas are promising, and any stability in food production is especially welcome during times of high inflation and global instability.

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