The covered agriculture industry claims it provides higher food security under increasingly challenging weather conditions, as it can protect crops against extreme heat, cold, rainfall and pests.
But a drawback is the high energy costs of heating greenhouses. Source.ag’s AI platform, however, aims to allow more growers to operate more acres in more locations more efficiently, thereby accelerating the global adoption of greenhouse agriculture.
Founded in 2020 by Rien Kamman (CEO) and Ernst van Bruggen (CPO), Source.ag has brought together a team of experienced engineers and plant scientists and has partnered with the world’s leading growers to build the sector’s most advanced artificial intelligence. Their proprietary algorithms simulate plant behaviour to define and execute optimal cultivation strategies, taking into account millions of data points on climate, biology, and resources.
The Netherlands is seen as the global epicentre of greenhouse agriculture expertise. With 12,000 acres of high-tech greenhouses, this is one of the largest and most advanced food production hubs in the world, providing fresh produce for a big part of the European market. Advanced agricultural technology has enabled the Netherlands to become one of the largest exporters in agricultural goods (measured in terms of value), coming in second behind the US despite being a nation that is 270 times smaller.
Rien Kamman, CEO and co-founder of Source.ag, explained: “Our technology provides growers with real-time, highly tailored advice on how to optimally grow their crops, and we support them in running a successful growing operation.” He added that by enabling more growers to operate more facilities more efficiently through pioneering tech, Source.ag aims to make greenhouse agriculture accessible, profitable and globally scalable. “We’re on a mission to provide nutritious food to more people, using fewer resources.”
AI can help with the energy costs, Kamman added. “Like many industries, greenhouse agriculture is actively working on transitioning to the use of more sustainable energy sources such as geothermal, for heating purposes,” he said. “Greenhouse agriculture already boasts considerable efficiency in energy, space and water use, and the current energy situation will be a trigger for the industry to further accelerate the broad use of sustainable energy and commit to circularity. What we see today is that we can already support growers to make better decisions about energy use, as AI can empower growers to find the cultivation strategies that are optimized for efficiency, enabling greenhouses to grow more produce using fewer inputs.”
The Netherlands... a pioneering country in smart farming
Earlier this year, Source.ag announced it had closed $23 million in its Series A funding round. It has now announced further investment totalling around $4 million.
Source.ag claims greenhouse agriculture is a proven solution to sustainable, local, and climate-resilient food production: it produces up to 15 times higher yields without the need for arable land and uses up to 20 times less water versus traditional farming methods.
The company will use the latest funds to accelerate its product development. The company plans to introduce further AI products later this year by supporting greenhouse growers with advice on the optimal way to grow their crops. By utilizing a digital twin of a greenhouse facility, the company claims it is able to simulate plant biology and predict expected resource usage and yield for all weeks. This innovative technology is also tailored to specific cultivars, allowing farmers and cultivators to make informed decisions and maximize their crop yields. The new funding will also help Source.ag expand its AI to support even more crop types and farming methods.
An official from SK networks, one of the backers, stated: "Source.ag has solidified its position as a prominent player in the Netherlands, a pioneering country in smart farming. As a startup with a scalable SaaS model, it holds immense potential for successful expansion into the global market."
Kamman added: “The global demand for greenhouse agriculture is rising, but its growth is being hindered by the shortage of experienced growers and unprecedented economic and climate-based challenges. We are proud to partner with Dutch master growers to create an AI platform that will empower growers globally and optimize their crops' growth in the short and long term. We are excited to complete our Series A financing with a final $4M investment and will continue to use these funds to bring ground breaking products to market for growers globally.’’