Looking Ahead into AgTech Trends with ICL Planet StartUp Hub

Navigating the Future of AgTech with ICL Planet StartUp Hub

As the urgency of addressing global food security challenges intensifies, the need for innovative solutions that can revolutionize agriculture is more pressing than ever. According to the Global Hunger Index, 43 countries are currently facing alarming or serious levels of hunger, which highlights the immediate need for substantial improvements in food production and distribution. This article explores the cutting-edge trends in AgTech that are set to reshape farming and food production.

The challenges of producing (and effectively distributing) enough food to feed 8.1 billion people are exacerbated by factors such as climate change and extreme weather events. There is an urgent need to transform global agriculture, adapt to changing environments, and achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger. 

We’re arguably living in the most exciting and transformative decade in the entire 11,000-year history of agriculture. The pace, scale, and scope of change – and the switch to environmentally and sustainable practices –  is unprecedented in human history. This is a very bold statement, but a closer look at emerging and upcoming AgTech trends, and the revolutionary technologies that are driving them, will give some valuable insights into the new green revolution. 

In response, AgTech stands as a beacon of innovation. We will delve into how generative AI is optimizing crop production, the benefits of regenerative agriculture in restoring ecosystems, the transformative impact of cloud computing on data management, the strategic use of digital twins, and the advancement of precision agriculture with sustainable inputs. Each trend not only highlights the potential of technology to enhance agricultural productivity but also demonstrates how it can contribute to a more sustainable and secure food future.

Playing a key role in these advancements, ICL Planet Startup Hub contributes to the AgTech sector by nurturing a vibrant ecosystem of entrepreneurs and researchers. With a commitment to strategic partnerships and scalable solutions, ICL helps translate technological possibilities into practical applications that address significant global challenges.

Join us as we explore the exciting AgTech trends that are set to revolutionize the agricultural landscape and ensure food security for a growing global population.

Agtech Industry Trends that are Changing Our World

Generative AI

Generative artificial intelligence is one of the most publicized technological innovations of the 21st century. Generative AI models learn from imputed data and generate new predictive data within the existing context or structures. It’s already transforming industry and is one of the most powerful trends in agriculture.  

Generative AI is used to simulate complex agricultural environments, enhance decision-making, and drive operational efficiencies. Machine learning and predictive models deliver astonishing versatility and scope to crop yield predictions and risk management, crop breeding strategies, and pest/predation control in response to climate change, and also smart automation of farming and production processes. 

ICL Planet Startup Hub portfolio company Agrematch is at the forefront of generative AI innovation. The data-science product discovery and development company uses a proprietary AI computational system to provide novel bioactive compounds to clients in the AgTech sector. Agrematch comprises some of the most talented innovators in data science concepts, chemistry, and biology to deliver solutions that slash R&D costs and timescales.

The flagship ICL startup Agmatix uses advanced AI to develop insights and tools that support sustainable agricultural practices. Agmatix platforms like Digital Crop Advisor and Agronomic Trial Management are empowering a data-informed decision-making process for farmers and agronomists. Generative AI is transforming the potential of agronomic trials and the ability of researchers to standardize a mass of data and easily extrapolate info and insights with statistical analysis and advanced ML models.

Advancing Regenerative Agriculture Through Technology

One of the core trends in agriculture is the rapid shift to sustainability and environmentally friendly farming practices. A big part of this transformation includes regenerative agriculture, both of marginal lands and of farmland depleted by soil erosion and obsolete land management and farming methods. 

Regenerative agriculture is a holistic practice that covers an entire spectrum of solutions, including topsoil regeneration, carbon sequestration, improvements to the water cycle, and new crop strategies to promote climate change resilience. 

Regenerative agriculture increasingly has government backing with the USDA earmarking an additional $1.5 billion in grants to US farmers. Upcoming ag trends are harnessing technology to promote biodiversity and precision farming. The Internet of Things (IoT), drone technology, and GPS are enabling massive improvements in soil and water monitoring, while access to big data is allowing researchers to create new data-based cover crop planting, crop rotation, and reduced tillage strategies.

We already touched on the important work that ICL Planet Startup Hub portfolio company Lavie Bio is doing in this field. Its bio-stimulant and bio-pesticide products are ideal for agronomists who want to integrate regenerative strategies into their wider planning. The key to the viability of Lavie Bio’s microbiome-based solutions is its superb computational predictive platform that draws on big data to create tailored and adaptable products.

Cloud Computing: A Game Changer in AgData Management

The data-based approach to AgriTech innovation is dependent on secure cloud computing. Researchers and trial managers have a level of data accessibility and analysis that would have been inconceivable a generation ago. New cloud solutions can standardize and seamlessly integrate a mass of big data from diverse sources and in multiple formats. Data can be drawn from across the entire agricultural supply chain in real time, and can also include weather reports, market information, and historical research. 

Cloud computing has revolutionized data management in agriculture, enabling a level of accessibility and analysis previously inconceivable. Modern cloud solutions facilitate the standardization and seamless integration of vast amounts of big data from diverse sources across the agricultural supply chain. This includes real-time data, weather reports, market trends, and historical agricultural research.

CropX, another ICL Planet Startup Hub portfolio company, is a leading cloud and data innovator with a cloud-based platform that integrates soil data with other data sets for precision agriculture. Its proprietary soil sensors effectively connect researchers and managers to field sites across the world via cloud storage. The field data can be flexibly integrated with relevant weather info, topography details, soil texture maps, crop models, and a host of other data sets that combine to create an accurate picture of growth potential and areas for improvement. 

Optimizing Operations with Digital Twins

One of the most promising agritech trends is the increased use of digital twins to create affordable and accurate virtual replicas of farming operations. Digital twins are models of existing physical systems and they are a vital tool for agronomists. A key advantage of digital twins is that they can be created before a physical system to allow detailed simulation, planning, and predictive analysis.  Digital twin models can improve crop yields, reduce wastage, and optimize research and both the design and execution of field trials.

Agmatix uses the latest digital twin technology to optimize agronomic trials and enhance the precision of field tests. Digital twins allow the convenient input of variables such as soil types, weather patterns, and other localized or crop-specific data sets. Digital twins can also be used to integrate synthetic data into modeling and can shorten the journey to regulatory approval for agronomic companies that rely on extensive experimentation e.g. field trials on seed genetics.

Enhanced Agricultural Efficiency and Productivity

All industries and businesses can benefit from improved efficiency and productivity, and agriculture is no exception. Even modest increases in output, reductions in wastage, or the modification of crops to improve their nutritional density can contribute to improved global food security. Sustainable intensification optimizes the use of existing land, without a negative environmental impact or further depletion of resources. 

ICL is making a major contribution to the optimization of agricultural efficiency, all the way down to family plots on marginal lands. ICL’s precision agricultural solutions, and innovations in sustainable fertilizer and crop nutritional, and fertigation solutions are making a fundamental difference. Farmers are better able to calibrate their fertilization plans, reducing wastage, and negative impacts like runoff and crop burn while increasing crop yields. 

Precision Agriculture and Sustainable Farm Inputs

Precision agriculture is one of the most rewarding trends in agriculture for farmers, particularly those operating on narrow margins. The use of data, AI, algorithms, and modeling to produce localized farming solutions is eliminating guesswork from planning, and reducing risk and waste. Sustainable farm inputs like biostimulants and precision fertilizers (implemented with real-time IoT monitoring and optimization) are putting farmers and agronomists in control. 

ICL is helping to empower farmers, and enabling the shift to sustainable agriculture, with a range of specialist products like Keep Green Bio Fertilizer, eqo.x, eqo.s, and other eco-friendly solutions. ICL can draw on over 100 years of experience, and a deep background in specialty minerals, as well as its world-class research ecosystem in Israel and other countries to continually innovate and improve – and continue to contribute to global food security. 

Building on Agritech Trends

The next decade is set to witness rapid transformative advances in sustainable farming practices–  including regenerative farming, land use optimization, and precision agriculture– and as AI, the IoT, and technologies like digital twins and cloud computing become increasingly integrated into everyday agricultural operations. 

ICL’s Planet Startup Hub is at the forefront of this revolution, helping to push forward the AgTech industry trends that will feed our growing population sustainably. The Hub is committed to driving these changes by fostering an environment where innovation thrives on collaboration and the pursuit of excellence.

ICL’s Planet Startup Hub is dedicated to catalyzing these changes by cultivating an environment where innovation flourishes through collaboration and the pursuit of excellence. By supporting a diverse array of startups such as Plantible, Lavie Bio, and Arkeon, we are not only addressing immediate challenges in sustainable food production but also establishing new standards for innovation in agriculture. Our partnerships underscore a commitment to leveraging technology and collaboration to transform agriculture, ensuring we can meet global food demands sustainably and efficiently.

We are keen to expand our network and build fruitful partnerships with researchers, founders, and AgTech entrepreneurs who share ICL’s vision for a sustainable future. If you have a groundbreaking product, a disruptive concept, or an innovative idea that can significantly impact farming or food production, let’s talk! Together, we can redefine the possibilities in agriculture and construct a global agricultural system that not only feeds the world but does so sustainably and effectively.

Join us in turning these bold visions into reality and ensuring a resilient, food-secure future for all.

This post was written in cooperation with 
Hadar Sutovsky, ICL VP of Corporate Investments & General Manager of ICL Planet  
Hadar combines extensive expertise in startup investments, venture capital, incubation, innovation, and global business development across international sectors, with a focus on Climate, Sustainable Agriculture, and Foodtech. Prior to ICL, Hadar served as a Managing Partner at Aquagro Fund, a dedicated impact investment management firm.  Along her professional path, Hadar led Innovation and investments in areas of AgriFood & Sustainability for the Global Unilever Open Innovation Hub in TLV and Frutarom. Hadar holds an MBA in Strategy and Innovation and MSc in Molecular Microbiology & Biotechnology from Tel Aviv University.  Beyond her professional endeavors, she generously volunteers as a certified Yoga teacher to contribute to the community. Hadar is married and resides in Tel Aviv. For more info follow Hadar on LinkedIn and ICL Planet website.