Precision Agriculture: The Future of Farming

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In my last post, I whined about the lack of investment support for public benefit types of companies (ahem), particularly from the big money players. Climate tech VC and corporate strategic investment are super, super critical elements of the clean tech revolution. I want to take nothing away from their place in the world. We absolutely, 100%, need big money to flow into climate tech startups that can revolutionize things at the pace we need revolution.

Sometimes, the irony is palpable though, as was the case with a press release we received about a precision agriculture startup that is helping farmers save money, and leads to dramatic reductions in the use of chemical herbicides. The down side, if there is one, is that it keeps us in the mindset that nothing is wrong with monocrop agriculture, on some level. Ownership of farmland is still a majority of family farms — according to the U.S. Census, family-owned farms own more than 2/3 of the total acreage (still a majority, woohoo!). However, the agribusiness and monocrop economy (i.e., who makes the most money) are dominated by corporations like Monsanto/Bayer, and though there are many efforts to create new economies there (like the one I profile below), the ecosystem mostly produces GMO corn and soy that are fed to factory farmed beef, subsidized with our tax dollars, while continuing to buy GMO seed with spliced in suicide genes and agrichemicals made from fossil fuels, so that McDonald’s can still serve us 99-cent burgers.

So…you see my quandary.

I’m not a purist. Far from it. I see packaging that says, “Now 75% less plastic!” and I celebrate it. And I admit my bias — compared to many, I know nothing about farming. So in this case, I interviewed a subject matter expert, Jesse Henry, Founder and CEO of Heartland.

Henry’s company, Heartland, helps farmers make more money growing sustainable crops that can strengthen materials like plastic, rubber, asphalt, concrete, and the like. The decarbonization of these raw materials is important for all the new USA manufacturing investments being built due to President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act.

Below are Henry’s thoughts on the ecosystem, and then I pasted the press release, below. I’m genuinely very curious your thoughts, dear CleanTechnica readers, so please, have at it — criticize me and don’t pull punches. I want to believe.

“Precision agriculture is the future of the farming industry. Its main goal is to reduce input cost (like chemical usage, water, etc), while increasing crop yields. This can help everyday farmers increase revenues while reducing expenses.

Traditionally, when farmers apply fertilizer and chemicals, they do not take into account the specific needs of any one part of the field. This means that most farmers are using more fertilizers and chemicals than they need to. With precision agriculture, farmers have the ability to see exactly where in their field they need more or less of any input.

We are seeing AI upgrade industries in dozens of different ways. There is no doubt that the agriculture industry will benefit from artificial intelligence and automation as the technology becomes available. The leaders in these technologies will be able to tap into billions of acres of TAM (total addressable market).”

–Jesse Henry, CEO and Co-Founder, Heartland

INDIANA – March 11, 2024 – Solinftec, a global leader in artificial intelligence solutions and sustainable agricultural practices, has announced that its Solix Sprayer Robot is now commercially available to farmers, cooperatives and ag-retailers, and will be on farms around the country this month. In addition to Solinftec’s existing Solix Scouting Robot, the newer Solix Sprayer is designed to detect and spray weeds.

Commercially available beginning this month, the new Solix Sprayer robot provides autonomous and sustainable spot-spray applications on grower’s fields. The robot was piloted on select farms in the Midwest last year. Similar to the Solix Scouting robot, the spray robot is powered by four solar panels that control the drive system and the spray system while providing reports on crop populations, weed identification and densities, disease identification and thresholds, insect identification and thresholds, nutrient deficiency identification and densities, NDVI among other layers of maps for data analysis, and much more useful data to the grower virtually 24/7.

This past December, in partnership with WHIN (Wabash Heartland Innovation Network) and Still Waters Manufacturing, Solinftec announced the expansion of its manufacturing capacity in the United States with the opening of its robotics plant in New Richmond, Indiana.

The collaboration and efforts of the companies make robotic technology more accessible to American producers, leading to a significant reduction in herbicide use and promoting sustainable agriculture. “This partnership represents a significant milestone for the US agricultural industry, and it’s gratifying to see two companies from our network bringing innovation to our region. Collaboration among all parties was crucial to the success of this project,” says Johnny Park, CEO of WHIN.

The use of Solinftec solutions has already led to a reduction of up to 97% in herbicide volume on properties that piloted the Solix robot last year in the United States. The key differentiator is that, through the collaboration of the three companies, the solutions will be adapted to the reality of the Midwest.

“The collaboration and work in our new Indiana factory supports the development and innovation of agricultural technology in not only Indiana and the Midwest, but throughout the country,” shared Guilherme Guiné, Solinftec’s Director of Operations for North America. “The new plant has a capacity to produce up to 800 units per year and by the end of 2024, American employees will represent 10% of Solinftec’s global workforce as we continue to generate jobs in the region,” shared Guiné.

A leading innovator and pioneer in the AgTech space, and champion for sustainable farm practices, Solinftec has designed its scouting and sprayer robots to help producers reduce their chemical inputs and deliver a lower carbon footprint and environmental impact.

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About Solinftec 

Solinftec is a Brazilian company, a global leader in artificial intelligence and robotics for agribusiness. Founded in the city of Araçatuba (SP) in 2007 by Cuban automation engineers, agtech has more than 800 employees globally, 330 in the R&D area alone, as well as units in the United States, Colombia, Canada and China. Among the technological solutions offered by the company are the artificial intelligence platform ALICE AI and Solix Ag Robotics, a robot focused on large-scale food production in agribusiness. Solix: Solix (

About Still Waters Manufacturing

The American company was acquired in 2022 by Jake Church and his wife Kindra. The company has over 35 years of serving the industry, focusing on the production of components for industrial forklifts. The factory is located in the former Coal Creek School, near New Richmond, Indiana.

About WHIN

WHIN is an innovative nonprofit organization devoted to making the 10-county Wabash Heartland region of north-central Indiana the global epicenter of digital agriculture and next-generation manufacturing empowered by smart IoT technology.

Photo courtesy of CleanTechnica’s own, the one and only, Cynthia Shahan

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