Kiwi agritech Croptide plants $1 million pre-seed round to tackle water scarcity

- December 17, 2021 2 MIN READ
Croptide co-founder Hamish Penny in a Pernod Ricard vineyard
New Zealand agritech startup Croptide, which transmits plant water health to a farmer’s phone in seconds, has raised $1 million in pre-seed funding.

The round led by Icehouse Ventures with support from Sir Stephen Tindall’s K1W1 and Masfen Group.

Croptide uses internet-enabled sensors to provide timely water measurement data to fruit and wine grape growers. The sensors are clipped to the plant, delivering water and nutrient readings directly from its stem tissues. The believes it can improve water use efficiency for growers by 30-50%.

The technology is already being trialed by leading wine companies, with T&G Global, Pernod Ricard Winemakers, Cloudy Bay New Zealand, and Indevin signing up for the summer pilots; along with large kiwifruit grower, the Ngai Tukairangi Trust.

The funds will be used to progress the trials, taking place in Marlborough, Hawkes Bay, and the Bay of Plenty, and to further develop Croptide’s tech.

Co-founder Hamish Penny was inspired to launch the business in his hometown of Hawkes Bay in February this year concerned about the impact of changing climate patterns on agriculture.

“Many regions around the world are facing dire water scarcity and growers are expressing the need for a quick and reliable method of gathering the critical data needed around water use and plant health,” he said.

“If every grower knows the precise amount of water needed for every plant, then they can make significant water efficiency gains to tackle global water scarcity and feed the planet.

“Sustainability and circular food production will be at the core of Croptide’s operating model as we strive to make a positive impact on people, the planet and fruit growers.”

A prototype of Croptide’s device on a grapevine

The UN is predicting a 40% shortall in freshwater resources by 2030.

Pernod Ricard viticulture transformation manager David Allen said minimising water use is an important part of the company’s sustainability goals.

“Technology like Croptide provides an opportunity for us to directly measure the water our vines truly need,” he said.

“We are pleased to see the industry working together to take shared responsibility for water use and address sustainability challenges and affect lasting change.”

Penny co-founded Croptide with Finn Brown while studying engineering at Massey University. It’s his second startup for following an electric weeding company two years ago.

Icehouse Ventures CEO Robbie Paul said farming needs to become more sustainable.

“We believe startups like Croptide will enable this,” he said.

“Like [NZ dairy cow monitor] Halter, Croptide is one of those unique startups where they have a massive addressable market in their backyard. We are proud to be backing Hamish and the Croptide team from day one.”