An artificial intelligence (AI)-based digital assistant named Aimer has raised NZ$1 million to help dairy farmers with pasture management
Kiwi startup Aimer Development was backed by food and agritech accelerator Sprout in the fifth of 30 $1 million investments the VC plans to make.
Aimer founder and Chief Technical Officer Jeremy Bryant has spent more than a decade developing his understanding of farming systems in New Zealand given the complexities they face in optimizing pasture use through a large number of tools and dashboards in addition to a little guesswork.
He launched Aimer in Hamilton in New Zealand’s North Island in 2021, describing it as “Siri for farmers” – a digital coach in their pocket to improve land management.
“Today’s farmers are faced with multiple decision points, such as where to graze and how much; how much to supplement; and how environmental risks can be identified and addressed. It is overwhelming and getting the right insights and advice is often a costly affair,” he says.
“Aimer is a digital assistant who actively works with farmers to improve thedeliver forward-looking insights and optimized solutions with limited data input.” The Aimer software creates an underlying ‘digital twin’ of a farmer’s paddocks, farm and animals so they can understand what goes on ‘under the hood’.
That ‘current condition’ analysis then automatically tests scenarios to come up with optimized plans, such as how many paddocks to keep for supplements, what level of supplements to feed, and where to place cows when and for how long.
“Aimer also lets farmers know which cultivars and paddocks are performing best on their farm, identify paddocks to renovate, and learn from past performance to better predict individual paddock covers,” Bryant said.
“It can currently text and email farmers and their teams, with chatbot and conversational capability, value chain integration and environment optimization to track.”
Better pasture = profit
Dairy is now New Zealand’s largest agricultural export and Warren Bebb, Sprout’s investment manager, said there is a lot at stake for farmers as better pasture management brings up to $2,000 per acre more annual profits for farmers.
“Aimer has built a digital tool that allows farmers to easily test and optimize the use of their pasture at scale,” he said.
“For processors and retailers, Aimer is an effective way to support suppliers and customers to improve the company’s profitability and economic resilience and to meet increasingly stringent environmental requirements. For farmers themselves, Aimer puts groundbreaking, predictive and intuitive technology in the hands of those responsible for on-site decision making.”
The investment in Aimer followed Byrant in completing the 12-week Sprout accelerator program for agricultural and food value chain startups.
“The support from Sprout and their network of mentors, partners and connections has been invaluable in helping us shape our vision for the future of pastoral farming locally and globally,” he said.
“It is a niche that is crying out for future-oriented technical solutions that lead to top economic and environmental performance. We are proud to support one of the country’s largest industries and bring kiwi innovation worldwide.”
Past Sprout alumni include Cropsy; ProTag – a “Fitbit” for cows; Menuaid, which answers the question ‘What do we eat?’ dissolves. dilemma; and Nootropics company Arepa.