Agriculture drones are some of the winners at the World Ag Expo in Tulare, CA, as the drought takes its toll on traditional farming equipment. The show is the largest in the world, and this year California’s drought has led to a glut of used tractors and combines. But as the conditions of the last year have led to steep discounts in traditional equipment, agricultural drones and water saving precision agricultural technology is stealing the show – and the attention of agriculture investors.
Ag Tech investors are focusing on the drone space, according to Rob Leclerc, co-founder and CEO of AgFunder. AgFunder is an online platform for investors interested in the food and agriculture technology sector. Leclerc told CNBC that the ag drone space saw $82 million of investment last year, led by $25 million in funding going to Airware.
“We still have what you’d call a lot of smart money in the space,” said Leclerc. “Globally, everyone understands the importance of food and food security and the role that technology will play to take that forward.
Agfunder News says that drones and robotics startups raised some of the year’s largest deals:
Investment into drones & robotics startups increased 237 percent on 2014 volumes to $389 million in 2015 with 42 of them raising funding. Drones led the pack with startups coming from across the globe as DJI, China’s leading drone company, raised $75 million at Series B and the subsector’s largest deal. The company raised this funding in the same year that it released its first drone specifically for agriculture…Many drone companies matured beyond Series A stage during the year with the subsector’s second largest deal a $64 million Series C from California’s 3D Robotics. Ehang wasn’t far behind raising $42 million at Series B.
The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) published an economic report which predicted that agriculture will lead the drone market, with up to 80 percent of commercial drones being part of the ag tech sector.