Tim Neale, founder of DataFarming, has been at the forefront of precision agriculture for over twenty years.
During that time, he saw a shift from being in the field to physically measuring and making observations to a digital revolution. But so far, the update on big data usage for greater productivity has been slower than he expected.
He now believes that more users and investors are ready to change the sector, and that Datafarming, which he founded with his wife Peta in 2017, can lead the way.
The real agriculture company offers digital solutions for farmers, mainly guided by satellite images, to unlock the value of farm data for agricultural experts and producers.
It already serves more than 120,000 paddocks across 28,000 farming enterprises in Australia and overseas markets including the UK, South America, Africa and Europe.
“With a 40% market share in Australia, we’re looking to build more products and roll out the platform globally,” says Tim.
The next step for Neale in the evolution of data farming is a $5 million Series A round on the Agrifutures growAg platform to support its product portfolio and scale globally.
“We have a few products, including the cloud-based Digital Agronomist, which provides farmers with satellite imagery every five days to help them manage variability, assess crop yields in the field or over time, or make fertilizer use decisions,” he said.
This helps identify the causes of product volatility – and we’ve built tools like the Variable Rate app to fix those problems.
“Almost every producer has an agronomist, but the ability of agronomists to service multiple fields can be a challenge. Technology can certainly help agronomists and farmers to do a faster and faster job of inspecting crops.
Talking about technology to farmers
Central to the mindset is the transition of datafarming as a consulting business to a low-touch, mass-market, and low-price-point digital platform.
“We’re putting valuable and easy-to-use farm data in the hands of every agronomist and producer,” he said.
“Data farming has been a technology evolution for the past 20 years and has really been driven by the frustration around the poor use of farming technology. Before our arrival, only 4% of farmers had actually viewed satellite imagery of their property. We have now reached a point where we are approaching 40% of the market using our platform.
But he doesn’t blame farmers for that slow growth — his view is that the tech industry has failed them.
“We blame the user, but it’s not the user who failed. It’s actually the technology,” he said.
“Farmers have always been willing and able; they just haven’t presented it in the right format before. The reason for this is that there are still not enough people and investment in farming technology.”
Getting the balance right is central to Neale’s vision.
“The way I look at it is if I make a cell phone for 40,000 people, it’s a substandard cell phone. But if 40 million people or 400 million people get mobile phones, look at them, Nehru.
“So it’s the same thing. Because there are only 40,000 customers for a specific agricultural product in Australia, there hasn’t been the level of funding, investment or interest to do that. So, everything is sealed. This has led to poor adoption rates among other things.
Now, Neale, two things have changed
“First of all, the whole world has gone digital. Secondly, the value people are placing on information has increased. “This is a big change that is bringing about the advancement of technology,” he said.
“In the last 12 to 18 months, agriculture has really been the good kid on the block.”
Tech is now also helping grow, with growAg filling what Neale sees as a huge gap in the agtech market.
“After listing our business opportunities at growAg. In December 2021, we brought in more than a dozen very strong leads from private equity investors and VCs both here in Australia and overseas, and with little or no effort.
“In comparison, I have about 20 pencils to work on, which took me years to collect.”
Learn more about Datafarming’s Series A investment round here,