Syngenta Acquires Farmshots to Give Farmers Birds-Eye View of Fields

Syngenta is adding satellite imagery to the high-tech features it can offer farmers. The agribusiness giant has acquired FarmShots, a Raleigh, NC, startup that has commercialized software that analyzes satellite and drone images to give farmers a view of field conditions.

No financial terms of the deal were disclosed.

FarmShots turns satellite data of crops and weather conditions into high-resolution images that farmers can study to spot pest problems, poor plant nutrition, and crop diseases. Syngenta says this would reduce the time spent by farmers scouting for such problems in their fields by as much as 90 percent. The insight can also help farmers reduce fertilizer use by helping them see where it’s needed and where it’s not.

FarmShots uses satellite images from Landsat, a satellite imagery program run by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey, and Planet, a satellite company. The images that FarmShots’ cloud-based software produce are viewable on tablets, laptop computers, and smart phones. The images can also be exported to other agricultural software for further analysis. Syngenta says it will integrate the FarmShots software into its own cloud-based farm software system, AgriEdge Excelsior, making the satellite imagery capabilities available to its customers worldwide.

A growing number of agtech startups have entered the market with software that analyzes farm data or images. FarmLogs has developed software that allows farmers to track and manage their farms via a mobile device. The Ann Arbor, MI, startup also offers a field-mapping feature that uses satellite images. Descartes Labs, based in Santa Fe, NM, applies machine-learning techniques to satellite images to provide insight about crops.

FarmShots was founded in 2014 by CEO Joshua Miller while he was a student at Duke University. Syngenta, which was acquired by ChemChina last year in a $43 billion deal, maintains biotechnology and crop protection operations in Research Triangle Park, NC.

Image by Flickr user NASA/GSFC/Landsat via a Creative Commons license.

Frank Vinluan is editor of Xconomy Raleigh-Durham, based in Research Triangle Park. You can reach him at fvinluan [at] xconomy.com Follow @frankvinluan

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