How many apples on this tree, in your orchard, across your farms? Until Outfield launched its drone-based imaging system to map the orchards it was impossible for growers to know this vital information.
Now the company has raised £750,000 in its first funding round, to expand its yield estimation capability. The orchard management system is now used by growers across three continents for high value crops including apples, pears and plums.
Jim McDougall, Director of Outfield, talked about the development of the technology at REAP 2021 along with one of the farmers that have helped to develop the technology so it meets the needs of growers. He says: “This investment will enable us to develop the customer base as well as adding new functionalities to the platform.”
Fruit growers are using Outfield map their orchards and to create detailed maps of tree condition and fruit loading. The technology helps growers visualise and track key parameters in their orchards, enabling them to produce more fruit to specification, reduce fruit loss and decrease the amount of chemicals used. Outfield already works with growers in the UK, Europe, South Africa, Chile and New Zealand.
The funding round was led by the UK merchant bank Turquoise in its 11th deal for the Low Carbon Innovation Fund 2 (LCIF2). The investment is part of a £750k round that also includes Cambridge Agritech, Deeptech Labs and Amadeus.
Jim says: “We are delighted to welcome LCIF2 as an investor in Outfield. Now is the time for new precision technologies to revolutionise this sector, supporting global food security and managing the environmental impacts of fruit growing”.
Axel de Mégille, director at Turquoise, commented: “Outfield technology will enable growers to improve yields on their production as well as decrease CO2 emissions associated with the use of chemical fertilisers. We were impressed by what the Outfield team has built so far and are proud to be part of the next step of their journey”. This funding is being used to expand Outfield’s global reach and extract even more insights from rich data their growers are gathering, allowing for further impacts in the sector.