An artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled digital assistant called Aimer has raised NZ$1 million to help dairy farmers with pasture management
Kiwi startup Aimer Development was backed by food and agritech accelerator Sprout in the fifth of 30 $1 million investments the VC plans to make.
Aimer founder and Chief Technical Officer Jeremy Bryant has spent more than a decade developing his understanding of New Zealand farm systems, seeing the complexity they face in optimising pasture use via a myriad of tools and dashboards alongside a bit of guesswork.
He launched Aimer in Hamilton on NZ’s North Island in 2021 and describes it as “Siri for farmers” – a digital coach in their pocket to improve land management.
“Today’s farmers face multiple decision points such as where to graze and how much; how much to supplement; and how to identify and address environmental risks. It’s overwhelming and obtaining the right insights and advice is often a costly exercise,” he said.
“Aimer is a digital assistant that actively collaborates with farmers to deliver forward looking insights and optimised solutions with limited data entry.”The Aimer software creates an underlying ‘digital twin’ of a farmer’s paddocks, farm and animals so they can understand what’s going on ‘under the hood’.
That ‘current state’ analysis then automatically tests scenarios to devise optimised plans such as how many paddocks to conserve for supplements, what level of supplements to feed, and where to put cows when and for how long.
“Aimer also lets farmers know which cultivars and paddocks are performing the best on their farm, identifies paddocks to renovate, and learns from past performance to better forecast individual paddock covers,” Bryant said.
“It can currently text and email farmers and their teams, with chatbot and ‘conversational’ ability, value chain integration and environmental optimisation to follow.”
Better pasture = profit
Dairy is now New Zealand’s leading agricultural export and Sprout investment manager Warren Bebb said the stakes are high for farmers, with better pasture management delivers up to $2000 per hectare more in annual profit for farmers.
“Aimer has built a digital tool that will allow farmers to test and optimise the use of their pasture easily and at scale,” he said.
“For processors and retailers, Aimer is an effective way of supporting suppliers and customers to improve business profitability and economic resilience as well as meet increasingly stringent environmental requirements. For farmers themselves, Aimer places game-changing, predictive and intuitive technology into the hands of those responsible for on-the-ground decision making.”
The investment in Aimer followed Byrant completing the 12-week Sprout accelerator program for agriculture and food value chain startups.
“The support of Sprout and their network of mentors, partners and connections has been invaluable in helping us to shape our vision for the future of pastoral farming both locally and globally,” he said.
“It’s a niche crying out for forward-looking tech solutions that result in peak economic and environmental performance. We’re proud to be supporting one of the country’s biggest industries and to be taking kiwi innovation global.”
Previous Sprout alumni include Cropsy; ProTag – a “Fitbit” for cows; Menuaid, which solves the ‘What’s for dinner?’ dilemma; and Nootropics company Arepa.