Nathan Faleide identified the "top 10 things coming in Ag Tech in '23," in the latest edition of his Easy Observations in Agriculture column. Here are some highlights from his list.
1. Startups Meet the Desert
"There are a lot of groups that have been raising money for years and with the hope of becoming cash flow positive yet they just haven't got there yet," Faleide says. "Now because of this you are starting to see the money dry up and some groups are having to decide whether to sell out or try some other tricky methods. There are some that are getting the funds as they are close to that golden road, but I'd say most are not there."
2. Carbon is a Loser
"While I understand there are certain practices within this space that make sense as a broader effect to help with methods such as no-till, regenerative farming, and more sustainable practices, the pure notion of knowing how much carbon is being sequestered is the challenging one," Faleide says. "I'm sure I'll get some grief and questions around this one and it's why I plan to write more on it later. Anyway, to me the hype around is basically dead."
3. API Connections are Complicated
"The truth is it's not only complex to connect everything to fit, but it also can cost a lot of money. This is why groups like Leaf and my former employer AgIntegrated existed (purchased by Telus)," Faleide says. "The problem is those services that help also cost money and sometime a lot more than what the end groups really want."
4. Mergers and Acquisitions
"The money drying up is going to cause a lot of M&A soon," Faleide says. "I've heard from some there are a few methods some are going after around this. One method is older startups (I hate to use that word) buying younger ones or ones that are running out of steam. Some are actually getting their next investment rounds just for this reason."
5. Drone Spraying Finding Some Feet
"I actually am hearing farmers starting to use them more and more," Faleide says. "Also, I've talked to one particular group that is building a hybrid model (diesel/electric) that holds 40 gallons and can do 120 acre/hr, which is wild."
6. Robots are Slow
"I’m hopeful they’ll get there, but I see a longer road than most are hopeful for," Faleide says. "So, basically I’m saying many of these groups are going to have a hard time finding money or more money to get where they want in the near term. Maybe a bunch will form one of these conglomerates I mentioned above into a super robot group?"
7. SAAS on its ASS
"There are no shortage of SAAS groups in Ag Tech or Ag in general now and I usually refer to them as an FMIS (Farm Management Information Systems)," Faleide says. "The issue is there are so many doing basically the same thing that they are fighting to stay alive and find somewhere to land. In doing this many times some, at least more from the past, gave there stuff away for free. All this did unfortunately was diminish the value of what was provided and hence did so for the ones that were charging for it. Frustrating!"
8. Sustainability is Actually Key
"More or less with carbon entering a slow down phase from what I see the whole sustainability side of things is going to increase its already potent side," Faleide says. "It's not that it's been gone, but I think carbon has been in its way."
9. AI is Scary Interesting
"It’s going to become easier for farmers not to reach out to their agronomists about those simpler answers and even some of those AI bots will be able to solve some tougher questions," Faleide says. "It’s more of a call to agronomists to think beyond whether they are better or not than this tech while understanding that they need to be aware of it and even use it to some extent. The shear amount of money going into Large Language Models and AI is crazy and some are saying it’ll be bigger than what the internet did to us all. That changed agronomy too."
10. Everyone is Tired
"Finally, if anything I saw from InfoAg and even the last 6 months is that so many are tired of hearing all the news and new things coming and going in AgTech in general," Faleide says. "Even if some of the things provide value and work good many are just sticking to their guns and using what they already decided on even if it’s not as good."
Click here to read Faleide's full column.