Startup Backed by Billionaire Family Offers Robots for US Farms

Sep 19, 2022 by Bloomberg

A startup backed by a billionaire Brazilian family is partnering with e-commerce platform Farmers Business Network to offer robots that spray fertilizer and pesticides to US farmers. 

Solinftec’s robots, which run on solar panels, are autonomous and were designed to apply fertilizer and weed killer only where needed. The company said the technology, already in use in Brazil, can reduce product use by as much as 70%. As a result of the deal, both companies will work with farmers in the US to commercialize the robot and to develop new methods for agrochemicals to be used with robotics technology.

“We believe we can service demand for localized application, reducing soil compression, with smaller and cheaper equipment, all connected and running autonomously,” said Leonardo Carvalho, director of operations for Solinftec. The company already serves sugarcane, soybeans, corn, cotton and coffee farmers in Brazil.

Read more: Billionaire family buys stake in Brazil agricultural tech firm

Solinftec is backed by Brazil’s Trajano family, which made a fortune through retailing. The startup’s technology uses AI to analyze crops and weather, determining how to use chemicals and seeds most efficiently. Solinftec is currently servicing 22 million acres (8.9 million hectares), but says it can reach over 124 million acres in the next few years with the partnership. 

The company already has 30 robots to deliver to producers in spring 2023, in addition to the ones being tested this year, Carvalho said. This year, Solinftec received a $60 million investment from private equity investors The Lightsmith Group and Unbox Capital, which manages investments for the Trajano family, and sold about $27 million of green bonds. The series C round will happen at the end of this year, and the company expects to reach a $1 billion valuation.

(Updates with Trajano family backing)

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By Tarso Veloso Ribeiro

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