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September 9, 2022 | Business & Exports

The rise of AgTech: Ten Chilean companies that are driving innovation in agriculture

The rise of AgTech: Ten Chilean companies that are driving innovation in agriculture | Marca Chile

Agriculture is one of Chile’s main economic activities, and there are already several start-ups that are innovating to improve yields in Chilean fields and combat climate change.

Drones, artificial intelligence, nanobubbles, and machinery rental platforms are just some of the technologies being used to revolutionize our fields. On World Agriculture Day, we invite you to find out how Chilean agriculture is creating future. 

Instacrops: Internet of plants 

Founded in 2015 by engineer Mario Bustamante, the Chilean start-up Instacrops is a virtual assistant that lets farmers view historical information and, at the same time, monitor their fields in real-time, through an application that allows them to detect problems with water, irrigation, fertilizers, pests and diseases. Farmers can therefore receive notifications about key soil indicators or approaching weather events directly to their cell phones. The objective? To keep farmers fully informed about the needs of their crops. The start-up now has operations in the US, Chile, Colombia and Mexico. 

AgroMatch: The “Airbnb” of agricultural machinery 

Considered the “Airbnb” of agricultural machinery rental, AgroMatch is a platform created in 2018 that allows small-scale farmers to lease their machines at times of low use in other areas where the seasons do not coincide. This solves the problem of underusing the machinery of small-scale renters, extending its period of use. This is done using artificial intelligence and the internet of things, which matches the demand for machinery with the supply and availability of lease. The company allows you to lease different types of machinery, as well as contracting or offering agricultural services, buying new or used machinery, and putting machinery up for lease or sale. 

AgroUrbana: Vertical farming using LEDs and hydroponics  

Created in 2018, AgroUrbana is the first Latin American company to introduce vertical farming, which produces 100 times more than traditional methods per square meter. It is possible thanks to the hydroponics technique, which uses water and nutrients instead of soil. The technology, based on LED lights and hydroponic cultivation methods, allows vegetables to be grown using only 5% of the water required by traditional agriculture. Founders Cristián Sjögren and Pablo Bunster created the company in response to two great challenges: to feed a growing population in the face of the impact of climate change; and the need for consumers to know more about the provenance of the products they consume. 

Wiseconn: Optimizing irrigation 

The water crisis facing the planet has forced many industries to reinvent themselves; and agriculture is no exception. Wiseconn aims to contribute to reducing water consumption, by allowing farmers to optimize irrigation through the automation, control and monitoring of plants, using software created especially for the purpose. The company has been running for more than 12 years, and is already operating in the United States, where 1,000 farms use their technology. It is now expanding to other Latin American countries, starting with Colombia. 

Altum Lab: Artificial intelligence to predict phenomena in the fields 

Founded in 2017, Altum Lab uses an artificial intelligence model called Bruna, a set of algorithms that can predict certain phenomena, such as crop yields, based on historical information from agricultural and aquaculture companies. The aim is to solve the production-demand forecasting problem, using projected sales, sales prices and other production-related variables. In addition to Chile, the company now has operations in Peru, Brazil and Mexico; but they want to reach more markets in Asia and Europe. That is why they are currently involved in a capital raising process. 

Kran Nanobubble: Better production with nanobubbles 

Created in 2017 by Jaime de la Cruz, Kran Nanobubble designs sustainable solutions thanks to nanobubble technology: tiny invisible bubbles injected into a liquid medium, which contain gases such as oxygen or nitrogen. They have different uses in agriculture, such as promoting plant growth, crop health, more efficient irrigation, oxygenation and water reuse. By injecting oxygen nanobubbles into their roots, for example, agricultural plants absorb nutrients more efficiently. 

AgroDrone: Innovation in applying pesticides 

AgroDrone Chile is dedicated to applying pesticides in a more innovative way than traditional fumigation and fertilization techniques by using drones. This technology allows products to be applied in areas that are difficult to access, such as steep slopes, those without roads, and those close to forests or houses. It also prevents soil compaction, reduces pesticide use by 30% and decreases water use. 

AgroInventario: Reducing agricultural losses 

After discovering that US$400 million were lost each year due to poor inventory management in Chile’s agricultural industry, Tomás Valenzuela and Vicente Pérez created AgroInventario in 2019. Special software that uses an electronic balance sheet manages to reduce chemical losses, and optimize time and resources in agricultural warehouses. This allows farmers to make quick decisions, buy correctly and reduce expiration. They now work with farmers from the Metropolitan Region to Los Lagos Region, and are looking to expand their business internationally. 

Patagonia Biotecnología: Algae for agriculture 

From Puerto Montt in southern Chile, Patagonia Biotecnología is a company specializing in producing seaweed extracts from Patagonia, which are nourished by the cold Humboldt Current, the richest marine ecosystem in the world. These extracts are used to support the different stages of plant nutrition through more than 40 seaweed-based products for use both in organic and traditional agriculture. Their products are now being used in Chile, Peru, the US and soon in other Latin American countries. 

Food for the Future (F4F): Reusing organic waste 

Meeting the need for food and reducing the amount of organic waste that ends up in landfill are two of the challenges that Cristián Emhart and Alejandro Tocigl decided to face with Food for the Future. How? By feeding organic waste to insects – the black soldier fly – which then becomes food for fish and animals. This project, the only one of its kind in Latin America, avoids the overexploitation of marine resources and deforestation by replacing fishmeal and soybeans with this sustainable protein.

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