Ceres Imaging, a Lemnos portfolio company focused on aerial spectral imagery and analytics, just announced $25 million in Series B financing, representing the largest single investment in the agricultural spectral imaging market category to date.
Ceres uses sensors in low-flying aircraft, analytics, machine learning models, and plant science to deliver validated, imagery-based insights about crops to farms in the US and Australia. Ceres technology looks at water stress, chlorophyll content, and other factors critical to success for their agricultural partners.
High-resolution aerial images are combined and analyzed by Ceres’s software, enabling customers to identify pest, disease, water, and fertilizer issues weeks before they are visible to the naked eye. This also helps farmers optimize their water, fertilizer, pesticide, and other inputs. Farmers are able to use less water and achieve greater crop yields. In fact, Ceres’s images have improved yields for growers by tens of tons an acre, and profits by hundreds of dollars an acre.
“Our imagery helps farmers cope with a changing world full of challenges such as climate variability, labor shortages, and depressed markets,” said Ashwin Madgavkar, founder and CEO of Ceres Imaging. Madgavkar understands what farmers need to know about a crop; he was previously a sugar farmer in Colombia and Brazil.
This round of funding will be used to advance computer vision and AI development, recruit new technical talent, and fund targeted imagery products for new markets. Ceres will also develop a miniaturized version of its sensors, for use with smaller drones.
This Series B round was led by Insight Venture Partners, with participation from Romulus Capital. Lemnos was one of Ceres’ first investors. “We loved the Ceres team and their application of advanced sensors and analytics to agriculture,” said Eric Klein, Lemnos partner, “and we enjoyed helping them gain first mover advantage on what has become a critically important and fast-moving market segment.”
Ceres’s technology is used currently on a range of crops, including Californian wine grapes grown, Australian pistachios and almonds, or soy, corn and potatoes grown across America’s heartland. Ceres is expanding from selling data only to commercial farms to analyzing entire regions. That regional data could prove quite useful to commodity investors, farm financiers, and government agencies interested in the constraints and opportunities in a particular region.