Crop start-up wins seed investment for water tech

by | Dec 17, 2021 | News

Agritech startup Croptide, which transmits plant water health to a farmer’s phone within seconds, has raised $1 million in a pre-seed funding round led by Icehouse Ventures with support from Sir Stephen Tindall’s K1W1 and Masfen Group.

Croptide uses internet-enabled sensors to provide accurate and timely water measurement data to fruit and wine growers battling the impacts of water scarcity brought about by climate change. The sensors are clipped to the plant, sourcing accurate water and nutrient readings directly from its stem tissue, a new, more precise approach to measuring plant health.

The company aims to improve water use efficiency for fruit and wine growers by 30-50%.

Four global businesses are among the first to trial Croptide’s technology, with T&G Global, Pernod Ricard Winemakers, Cloudy Bay New Zealand, and Indevin have signed up for the summer pilots; along with large kiwifruit grower, the Ngai Tukairangi Trust.

The new funds will be used to progress these trials, which are taking place in Marlborough, Hawkes Bay, and the Bay of Plenty, and to further develop Croptide’s technology.

The impact of changing climate patterns on agriculture, which accounts for more than 70% of global water withdrawals, inspired co-founder Hamish Penny to start the company from his hometown in Hawkes Bay in February 2021.

“Many regions around the world are facing dire water scarcity and growers are expressing the need for a quick and reliable method of gathering the critical data needed around water use and plant health,” says Hamish. “If every grower knows the precise amount of water needed for every plant, then they can make significant water efficiency gains to tackle global water scarcity and feed the planet.

“Sustainability and circular food production will be at the core of Croptide’s operating model as we strive to make a positive impact on people, the planet and fruit growers.”

The UN is predicting a 40% shortall in freshwater resources by 2030 and fruit growers around the world have committed to environmental pledges to significantly reduce their water use.

Pernod Ricard’s Viticulture Transformation Manager David Allen says “Minimising water use is an important part of Pernod Ricard’s sustainability goals, and technology like Croptide provides an opportunity for us to directly measure the water our vines truly need. We are pleased to see the industry working together to take shared responsibility for water use and address sustainability challenges and affect lasting change.”

Hamish co-founded Croptide with Finn Brown while studying engineering at Massey University. Croptide is the second startup for Hamish, who previously founded an electric weeding company in 2019.

Also joining the Croptide this year is Commercial Director, Nick Fitzpatrick, who spent ten years setting up global offices for T&G Global before joining California agritech startup Apeel Sciences, which recently raised $US250m at a $2 billion valuation.

Commenting on the recent investment, Icehouse Ventures CEO Robbie Paul says: “Farming in the future must become more sustainable and we believe startups like Croptide will enable this,” says Robbie. “Like Halter, Croptide is one of those unique startups where they have a massive addressable market in their backyard. We are proud to be backing Hamish and the Croptide team from day one.”

About the Author

Vincent Heeringa

Vincent Heeringa is a communications strategist, writer, marketer and PR expert specialising in tech, investment, and sustainability. He was co-founder of Idealog, Stoppress and Good magazines and helped establish the Science Media Centre. He is the host of a podcast ‘This Climate Business’, co-founder of The Feed.co.nz, and a trustee of the Adventure Specialties Trust. And there's nothing he loves more than a good story. vincentheeringa.com

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