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  • Writer's pictureMohamed Soltan

Growing Smarter: Can SaaS Technology Optimize Agricultural Productivity?

The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business model has consistently garnered favor from investors over the years. It offers cost-effective, or cash flow-aligned, access to scalable technology for customers, making it especially appealing to the agriculture sector. Agriculture faces significant capital expenses and is becoming increasingly reliant on technology. This is where agricultural SaaS can step in. Read on to learn more about agricultural SaaS for investors. Vertical SaaS The initial wave of SaaS offerings often prioritized breadth over depth, aiming to reach a wide customer base. This approach, however, led to underserved critical functional areas within specific industry verticals. Consequently, the past decade witnessed the emergence of industry-specific, or vertical, SaaS startups. According to Bain Capital Ventures, these pioneering vertical SaaS solutions from the first generation were bolstered by the following:

  • The Knock-on Effects of Digitization—While tech-savvy buyers drove the initial adoption of SaaS, increasingly tech-savvy workers later pushed for better solutions to manage manually intensive processes.

  • More Digitally Native Buyers—As millennials and younger generations made up a more significant portion of decision-makers in business, they naturally looked for digital solutions.

  • Improved Foundational Capabilities—Cloud computing and mobile devices paved the way for the initial SaaS wave. Subsequently, a new layer of capabilities emerged to empower vertical SaaS solutions, including embedded fintech and generative AI, among others.

  • Widespread Access to Data—The greater availability of third-party vertical-specific data meant developers could focus on differentiated solutions instead of data integrations and management.

Bain suggests opportunities for the next generation of vertical SaaS offerings will come from industries that are not yet fully automated, such as agriculture. Agriculture SaaS Applications Agriculture faces increasingly complex challenges from multiple quarters. As arable land decreases and climate change effects take hold, SaaS tools can assist farmers in maximizing yield, potentially under novel conditions. Some examples of agricultural SaaS applications include:

  • Livestock Management Livestock management software assists in monitoring and managing livestock health, reproduction, and growth. It helps track health records, breeding history, and other essential data points, enabling farmers to make informed animal care and productivity decisions. Israeli-based startup BeeFree Agro is an example of livestock software. It uses autonomous drones to count, track, and herd livestock. It saves ranchers time and money while reducing stress on animals.

  • Supply Chain Management

SaaS solutions for supply chain management in agriculture help track the movement of agricultural products from the farm to the consumer. They have the potential to optimize the entire process, from procurement to distribution, ensuring that produce remains fresh and minimizing spoilage. For example, multinational startup Gro Intelligence has developed the Gro Platform, an AI-powered platform that helps farmers predict and secure supply chains and deal with food security and climate change issues.

  • Crop Modeling Precision agriculture software leverages data from various sources like satellite imagery, remote sensors, and weather forecasts to optimize farming practices. It aids in precise crop planning, optimal resource utilization, and efficient pest and disease management. It leads to better yields and reduces environmental impact. The startup agri-tech platform Fasal, developed by India-based Wolkus Technology Solutions, uses AI technology to create a data-driven precision agriculture system. It minimizes expenditure on fertilizers, pesticides, and resources such as water and power by analyzing real-time growth conditions.

  • Marketplace Platforms

SaaS-based marketplace platforms connect farmers directly with buyers, retailers, and wholesalers, facilitating efficient trade and eliminating intermediaries. They give farmers access to a broader market and an opportunity to increase their profitability.

  • Sustainability Agriculture is one of the main contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainable agriculture management software helps farmers implement environmentally friendly farming practices. It assists in optimizing resource utilization, reducing chemical inputs, measuring carbon sequestration, and promoting biodiversity.

  • Financial Management

Farm financial management software helps farmers budget, plan, and track expenses and revenues. It provides insights into cost-effective farming practices, helps in analyzing profitability, and assists in making informed financial decisions for the overall growth and stability of the agricultural business.

  • Education and Training Platforms

SaaS agricultural education and training applications provide farmers access to various educational resources, including online courses, webinars, and virtual workshops. These platforms help farmers stay updated with the latest farming techniques, technologies, and industry trends, empowering them to enhance their agricultural knowledge and skills. Conclusion The burgeoning agriculture SaaS industry is transforming the age-old practice of farming. With its diverse applications, it is set to revolutionize how agricultural operations are planned, managed, and executed. As this sector continues to evolve, it can increase agricultural productivity and efficiency and foster sustainable and environmentally responsible practices.

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