Taranis Makes Push to Disrupt Australian Ag
Much has happened since we last spoke with Taranis in the fall of 2018. Since raising $20 million in Series B funding, the Israeli smart farming start-up has tripled its customer base and acres serviced to 20 million-plus, and now, has inked a partnership in Australia with fellow Israeli, ChemChina-owned crop input player ADAMA Australia and distributor Landmark.
Taranis, which has made a name for itself with its AI2 ultra-high resolution aerial imagery solution, says the collaboration signals the expansion of its global operations and adds value to Landmark and ADAMA Australia’s already existing customer bases.
With 30 clients already benefitting from the arrangement, Taranis recognized that the Australian market was ripe for precision agriculture disruption, enabling growers across the region to make better decisions with knowledge collected from multiple trusted sources.
“It’s a really big, open market. They have the best machinery that supports variable rate, but they don’t have the technology to create prescriptions. That’s where we come in,” CEO and Founder Ofir Schlam tells PrecisionAg.
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“We’re excited to partner with Taranis to develop and provide our clients with the most groundbreaking farming solutions,” Andrew Newall, AgTech and Innovation Manager at ADAMA Australia says.” We believe that the company’s technology represents the future of farming and combined with ADAMA’s crop protection portfolio the reach and applications of our capabilities are endless. Our goal is to continue to provide valuable services and products to farmers, ultimately optimizing yields and increasing growth exponentially.”
“Australian farmers are experiencing the devastating effects of drought right now and as a business, we’re focused on helping our clients find solutions to help them cope. Sustainability and Profitability of your growers is our focus,” says Sam Bald, National Digital Strategy Manager at Landmark Australia. “Together with Taranis we’ll be able to deliver enhanced solutions and greater value to help Australian growers increase their food production and stand out in an increasingly competitive global market.”
Taking Off the Data Burden
Thermal imagery capabilities in the Mavrx UHR platform, which Taranis acquired last spring, will benefit drought-embattled Australian farmers, Schlam says. “We can see how to build irrigation prescriptions and see abiotic stress building up. When they’re lucky and don’t have drought, we have other tools to make sure the crop is accessible because we can detect insect and disease pressure in specific areas.”
How does it all work? “The farmer doesn’t really need to do much,” Schlam says. “He’s basically ordering a flight or package of flights. We perform them, so there is no hassle of using their own drones.” The farmer receives a PDF of the findings, for example: the level of crop emergence found on each area of the field, which will tell the farmer whether he needs to replant in some areas or use less input. AI2 can also identify insect infestations — right down to a single insect on a leaf — and several dozen species of weeds and their density.
“You can click if you want to send it John Deere, straight to the sprayer. So it’s more actionable and insight-driven with a prescription, rather than the really technical deep dive that they needed to do last season.”
“You keep hearing from other companies how AI is going to replace people’s jobs, and people are concerned,” Schlam adds. “Unfortunately in farming, it’s filling a void, because less and less people are going into agronomy, and a lot of the knowledge is being forgotten.” He points out that Taranis employs hundreds of agronomists that teach its software, best practices, and how to detect various problems.
“Agronomists can’t be everywhere all the time, but imagery and software can be. If (the agronomist) finally has time to focus on solutions and not just on collecting and evaluating data, we can save him an 80% block of work, and he can focus on the 20% where he can bring value and make the right decisions and prescriptions.”