Equipment manufacturer Bobcat is partnering with agricultural technology company Agtonomy to advance electrification, autonomous operation and digitalization in Bobcat’s agriculture equipment.
“Bobcat wants to innovate in agriculture, and they’re doing that through a partnership with Agtonomy, where you bring together our software and services with their equipment,” Agtonomy Chief Executive Tim Bucher told Equipment Finance News. “You can imagine new types of equipment in the future that gives farmers the ability to do more with less.”
Automation can help address labor gaps in agriculture, Bucher said.
“We’re really focused on closing the labor gap that has existed for decades in agriculture,” he said. “Knowing how many people go into agriculture, it’s declining every year.”
The number of hired agricultural workers in October 2022 was 785,000, up 1.7% year over year, according to data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Still, the number is down 3% compared with pre-pandemic October 2019 and down 10% from October 2012.
San Francisco-based Agtonomy is looking to integrate its autonomous software in tractors from Bobcat and other original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) after demonstrating the company’s capacity to do so during the World Ag Expo in February.
“What we showed [at the World Ag Expo] was an all-electric vehicle that we actually developed, and we did base it on a particular Bobcat chassis,” Bucher said. “We’re not a tractor manufacturer, but it works so well that we are taking it to market in paid pilots, which is what’s starting next month, and that will generate revenue for Agtonomy, while we work with OEM partners to embed our technology into their platforms.”
Bobcat, a subsidiary of heavy equipment conglomerate Doosan, is focused on agricultural innovations.
“The agriculture industry offers many opportunities for innovation advancements, and we are focusing on developing solutions for real-world application,” Joel Honeyman, Bobcat vice president of global innovation, said. “Through this partnership with Agtonomy, we are identifying ways to make our customers more productive and efficient in their ag operations.”
The future of AgTech
Agtonomy’s software will be integrated into Bobcat’s equipment, similar to how Sirius XM is implemented into cars, Bucher said.
“They have a service that they’ve actually embedded into car manufacturers all over the world, and there’s a Sirius XM receiver chip in there,” he said. “Similarly, you can view Agtonomy as an ingredient brand in the future, embedded in OEMs who really want to accelerate their transformation to the digital tractor, which is underway these days,” he said.
The company raised $22.5 million over three seed rounds, including $13.5 million in its latest funding round on Sep 15, 2022, according to Crunchbase. Agtonomy investors include Google Ventures, Toyota Ventures, Cavallo Ventures and Flybridge, among others, Bucher said.
Agtonomy likely will begin raising equity by early next year, he said.
In February, Agtonomy announced partnerships with two winemakers as part of the company’s farming services operations. “We’re seeing growth there, and that’s where our core business of Agtonomy’s farming service, utilizing our software, is coming into play,” Bucher said.