"The current agriculture system cannot work as it is today to solve the issues we face, even when optimizing every individual component of it. These issues are food waste, labor inefficiency, and the destruction of crops through pathogens and pests. However, if that's the case, why am I so optimistic?" says David Lee, Founder and CEO of Inevitable.
Following that, David explains that the future of agriculture will not only be profitable, as, without profit, you cannot sustain progress. On the opposite, David thinks it will be more equitable, as it comes down to being more predictable.
That's the reasoning behind Inevitable Tech, an AI-powered agtech platform that boosts farm productivity while reducing the land, water, and energy footprint of crops. The company is aiming to create a common solution for every farm that thinks it competes with each other. In this way, Inevitable can access data to predict the future and solve the three issues stated earlier.
Direct access to seedlings
"In North America, we cannot get enough high-quality seedlings as every far needs great seeds to protect it against pathogens to literally create the yield. This is true whether a controlled environment ag company or an open field grower."
By entering the market with a high-tech propagation system and not just a technology that customers want to install, as David sees it, but also to enter this area with actual seedlings to penetrate any type of farm. "This means that we can begin to install the system and share the data across multiple production systems to address labor, waste, and pest management."
Although the company is still young and only counts 30 employees thus far, David points out that they've been working hard to achieve the level of technology that it is today. One hundred million of R&D has gone into thinking and development over the past years very quietly.
Working with CEA companies
As a result of that R&D, Inevitable has had a bit of a headstart in working with established CEA companies. According to David, this is important because he finds that CEA is still stuck in scarcity thinking and closely held. "For us, having great technology is insufficient. You have to have great technology but also be able to immediately have an impact and get a signal from established companies in the industry we serve. Mentioning App Harvest and Revol Greens during his presentation, David sees that even the most data-rich farms crave AI-enabled technology solutions.
"We're focusing on predicting outcomes to eliminate waste powered by AI. Whether open field farmer or frankly, one day, a grocer to make you more productive. We think that this problem is eminently solvable if you have access to the right data and the right technology."
Being able to standardize and predict
Though, David does believe that the volatility in this industry will persist. "That individual optimization of that one company or another is not going to get it done. We think that the solution has to be standardizing the data and creating access to predict the future in advance. Knowing when the surge of labor needs to happen for harvest, understanding who is your top 20% frontline workers and how you can reward them disproportionately to create a more equitable system."
Thus, how do you give access to a grower to the seedlings that are being produced somewhere else so that they have a real-time understanding before they put them into their precious farm? All of those seedlings know exactly what step occurred when living with the touch of their phone.
"Imagine a world where a frontline worker can just tap their phone to a row of products and select the tasks that they're doing so that they can predict which part of the farm needs to be quarantined or which part of the farm needs to be harvested. These are the solutions that can happen if you integrate into every farm, seeking to optimize one against another."
Adopt data to be better prepared
"We believe that the future is independent of whether you believe that greenhouse growers are going to beat a vertical farm, and a lot of folks in CEA are looking down their noses to open-field growers. Yet, the reality is that every farm has to get more productive, and every farm can't unless they'll start using data to optimize and predict outcomes."
The number one differentiator is that we're going to market with a fundamental need that everyone has today; seed, seedlings, and propagation.
So what does Inevitable offer? The company is installing a propagation system. As David affirms, if you cannot access the industry and do not have the ability to go to the market to get the data, it doesn't matter how advanced your system is. "It doesn't work off any data, so for us, we like to think that we have an industry view of the problems that people really care about, and we're going to seek to solve them immediately as we develop the real business for us. Which is to get the data to be predictive from an AI standpoint."