Based in the Netherlands, thriving agtech startup source.ag has announced a $23 million Series A funding round to help grow its business, less than a year after its previous $10 million round. The company helps commercial growers of greenhouse crops adjust their growing conditions, optimize their resources and maximize their yields by using advanced AI models to predict how their plants will grow under different conditions. Food production is both energy and water intensive (“fun” fact: agricultural irrigation uses 70% of the world’s water) and with the the world’s population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050I don’t think it’s a bad idea to use a little less water to grow our food.
The company focuses on greenhouse horticulture as a sustainable, local and climate-proof food production method that can offer a tailor-made environment for each specific crop. As such, Source.ag’s technology aims to empower growers to make more informed decisions about their crops and greenhouses to enable more sustainable harvests.
Source.ag’s seed funding was primarily used for R&D and to develop Source Track, a software platform to help growers run their facilities. It has worked with hundreds of users in thousands of acres of high-tech greenhouses, making it ripe for expansion. The Series A financing, led by Astanor Ventures and including investments from Acre Venture Partners and several of the leading Dutch greenhouse builders, will enable the development of two new products: Source Cultivate and Source Control.
“We will be releasing several new products over the next 24 months, including Source Cultivate, which will give growers unprecedented predictive powers and the ability to use AI to find optimal growing strategies,” explains Rien Kamman, co-founder and CEO of Source .ag, off. “Basically, we give growers a crystal ball in which to see how external factors and strategic decisions will affect the development of their crops, including the associated resource use, costs and yields. Based on this, we support growers in finding the cultivation strategy that suits them.”
“One of our customers in France was already using Source Cultivate to simulate different pruning and climate strategies for its tomato crops and got instant feedback from our AI on how different strategies would affect plant health, yield and profit throughout the season,” added Kamman. “This allowed the grower to find the perfect growing strategy – tailored to their geographic location, commodity prices, type of facility and seed genetics.”
The largest fresh vegetable sectors in the world, for example tomatoes and peppers, have been Source.ag’s main focus so far, but the aim is to help all growers, everywhere, to manage the best harvest possible.
“Source.ag’s goal is to give growers and farmers similar superpowers for growing their crops. Source.ag will be able to provide real-time advice on how best to grow crops, no matter what you grow or how you grow it,” says Kamman. “It’s mind-boggling that there are 3 billion people who don’t have access to enough fresh produce.”
For the founder of the company, Source.ag is about the democratization of agricultural knowledge through AI, enabling the cultivation of fresh fruits and vegetables in the most efficient and sustainable way possible.
“I believe Source.ag is uniquely positioned to ‘bridge the gap’ between the digital world of AI and the real world of plants, breeders and agriculture,” says Kamman. “We have extensive experience building applied AI and we have been able to attract top talent working closely with the best growers in the world.”
Kamman and his co-founder, Ernst van Bruggen, had been building AI systems for large companies for years, but having grown up in the Netherlands – one of Europe’s largest producers of fresh fruit and vegetables – the duo thought they would be able to apply knowledge and skills to help farmers feed the world. They quit their jobs and founded Source.ag in early 2020 to hybridize technology and food.
For Kamman, Source.ag is not just a software supplier; he sees it as a long-term partner in a farm where the farmers are the heroes. If agriculture and technology may sound like strange bedfellows, Kamman is keen to point out how both growers and developers practice a trade and find common ground as a result.
“I have noticed that craftsmen recognize other craftsmen and easily connect with them, even outside their domain. It is the love for the profession that is the connector, certainly in combination with a modest curiosity about each other’s profession,” concludes Kamman. “It’s great to see our developers spend time in the greenhouse with the grower and learn firsthand from them what Source can build to help growers become even more successful.”