2022 SPECIALTY CROP AUTOMATION REPORT
6.5 GENERAL TRENDS WITHIN THE START-UP LANDSCAPE
Since last year’s inaugural report, there have been several notable trends in the specialty crop automation space. Firstly, weeding, thinning and spraying start-ups are increasingly moving from a subscription model to a traditional sales model. This is driven largely by grower preferences. When growers are exposed to a novel technology, they prefer a subscription model to minimize investment and capital risk. However, as they become more familiar with the technology and are convinced of its economic return and effectiveness, they prefer to take ownership and buy the equipment outright. As an example, Carbon Robotics has recently moved away from a service model (this was also motivated by the amount of human labor required to maintain the service model as they scaled up.) However, smaller farms may continue to prefer subscription models even in the long term, as they have less ready capital.
as tractors), are gaining market traction in the weeding, thinning and spraying spaces. These offer benefits to growers due to the lower capital investment requirements, and to start-ups whose capital requirements for manufacturing become much lower. As an example, Carbon Robotics has moved from a full machinery offering to a tractor implements offering. Similarly, FarmWise has traditionally had a full machinery offering, but they have recently worked to develop a tractor-mounted implement as well. These two trends are primarily observed within the weeding and thinning space as this segment has evolved most since last year’s report. Another trend within the specialty crop automation space is the level of focus on indoor environment farming. In the survey, start-ups indicated the percentage of their current roadmap that is focused on indoor farming in 2022, 2025 and 2028 (see Figure 45).
Secondly, aftermarket autonomy systems, add-ons that can autonomize existing non-autonomous vehicles (such
START-UPS ARE CURRENTLY FOCUSED ON TRADITIONAL OUTDOOR FARMING, BUT PLAN TO FOCUS INCREASINGLY ON INDOOR FARMING IN THE COMING YEARS Percentage of roadmap focused on indoor farming [2022, 2025, 2028]
Average % of roadmap
16% 11 % 16%
21% 5 % 11%
Percentage of start-up roadmap focused on indoor farming
90-100% 60 - 89% 30 - 59% 1 - 29% 0%
Source: Roland Berger Figure 45: Percentage of roadmap focused on indoor farming [based on survey responses]
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