Croptide, a Hawke’s Bay startup has launched a series of commercial pilots following a NZ$4.25m funding raise
According to Croptide, water and plant hydration can be one of the most expensive challenges for a grower, and for a long time has been based largely on guesswork. To combat this, Croptide aims to give growers access to first-hand plant hydration information, straight from the plant. The Croptide device ‘plugs’ directly into plant stems where it analyses and assesses the plant’s hydration. The data is then transmitted directly to the grower via an app.
Croptide chief executive and cofounder Hamish Penny said water and plant hydration can be one of the most expensive challenges for a grower and Croptide’s analytics have brought a new dimension of understanding to fruit producers such as T&G Global, Zespri, Rockit.
“Croptide’s insights have shown us there’s an opportunity to be much more precise through having irrigation decisions driven from the plant,” said Penny.
“The plant can literally tell you when it needs to be watered. In some cases, this can reduce water usage by over 50 per cent, while maximising yield and fruit quality outcomes,”
T&G Global is now rolling out pilot deployments of Croptide on apple orchards around Hawkes Bay, and its general manager, Morgan Rogers, is optimistic about the technology’s potential to mitigate climate risk, ensuring they can continue to produce top quality fruit.
“We are passionate about being efficient with water resources and see Croptide as the next step in giving plants exactly the water they need to allow us to supply top quality fruit,” said Rogers.
The NZ$4.25m seed funding is being used for the company’s first commercial irrigation pilots this summer, and to expand the Croptide team as the company prepares to scale. The US-based investment reflects the international ambitions of Croptide, which already has active trial sites across California, Washington State, Spain, France and Italy.
“Ubiquity Ventures looks for companies that use software to revolutionise traditional industries, and Croptide’s technology is a prime example of this,” said Ubiquity Ventures founding partner Sunil Nagaraj. “Taking state-of-the-art software to analyse and upgrade major horticulture operations has the potential to feed a growing population amid a changing climate. This work is not just good business, but an absolutely crucial mission.”
Investing again after leading Croptide’s pre-seed capital raise in 2021, Icehouse Ventures chief executive Robbie Paul says that Croptide’s strategic relationship building with top agricultural producers has put the business in a strong position for long-term growth.
“Environmental and economic drivers are going to accelerate the move to precision farming and Croptide is poised to be a key enabler,” said Paul.