Agriculture can feed the world, but it also contributes to global warming. About 70% of the Earth’s fresh water is used for agricultural production and accounts for about a third of greenhouse gas emissions. But this is not necessary. The farm is moving inside, and the farmers are not quite what they used to be. New forms of agriculture, new technologies and new companies are planting greenery.
Take the example of Grover and Phil. They are autonomous robots – or farmers of the future, working at Iron Ox, a 6-year technology startup from Silicon Valley. It grows products in greenhouses with natural light in order to decentralize agriculture to grow crops closer to consumers in a more sustainable way.
“We have different robots that take care of plants, they check them, scan for problems and regulate the amount of nutrients it gets, the amount of water it gets,” explained Brandon Alexander, CEO of Iron Ox.
The robot works in a hot house in Iron Ox, a startup of pure agriculture in Silicon Valley.
The Iron Bull method contrasts sharply with what Alexander, who grew up on a farm in Texas, calls the approach to agriculture “spray and pray” when more chemicals are created in greater quantity through quality. Indoor cultivation allows farmers to grow any crop at any time, regardless of climate and climate change. He also uses hydroponics, growing crops without soil so that water comes directly to the roots.
“A lot of water in field farming is just washed away and never gets on the plant. And if 70% of your fresh water enters that farm and only 10% of it actually reaches the plants. It just generates a lot of waste,” he said.
Iron Ox does not consider itself “vertical farming,” and it is another type of technology designed to limit greenhouse gases by growing in small spaces. While competition in pure agriculture certainly exists, Alexander says he welcomes it.
“Today, indoors, even with all the investment in them, these investments are a drop in the bucket in terms of the potential of the premises. Properly made food can reach more people than the five leading technology companies combined,” he added.
Iron Ox is now expanding in Texas, near Austin. It sells to retailers such as Whole Foods as well as local restaurants. Alexander says that in the next 18 months the company will produce about 100 times more products than now.
The company is supported by Bill Gates Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Crosslink Ventures, R7 Partners, Eniac Ventures, Pathbreaker and i / o Ventures and Amplify Ventures. Total funding to date: $ 98 million.