A new future for fruit farming: Innovative Cambridge start up raises £750000

A Cambridge company that helps fruit growers produce more fruit, be more efficient and increase sustainability by using drone technology and artificial intelligence has successfully closed its first funding round.

Image: Jim McDougall (left) and Oli Hilbourne (right), Founders of Outfield

Outfield provides an orchard management and yield estimation system for high value fruit crops like apples, pears and plums.

The company’s system has generated sufficient traction that it’s already in use in three continents.

Fruit growers are using Outfield to deploy inexpensive, off-the-shelf drone systems, quickly surveying orchards and gathering high resolution images.

Outfield then uses machine learning to analyse this imagery, providing detailed maps of tree condition and fruit loading to help growers visualise and track the parameters in their orchards, informing precision management to increase yields, and sales forecasts to prime the supply chain. This allows growers to produce more fruit to specification, reducing fruit loss in orchard which can run as high as 20%, whilst using fewer chemicals on the land and requiring less manual labour.

Outfield already works with growers in the UK, Europe, South Africa, Chile and New Zealand.

Turquoise, the UK merchant bank specialising in energy, environment and efficiency, has led the investment in Outfield, its 11th deal for the Low Carbon Innovation Fund 2 (LCIF2). The investment is part of a £750k round that also includes Cambridge Agritech, Deeptech Labs and Amadeus.

Axel de Mégille, director at Turquoise, commented: “Outfield technology will enable growers to improve yields on their production as well as decrease CO2 emissions associated with the use of chemical fertilisers.  We were impressed by what the Outfield team has built so far and are proud to be part of the next step of their journey”. This funding is being used to expand Outfield’s global reach and extract even more insights from rich data their growers are gathering, allowing for further impacts in the sector.

Jim McDougall, Co-Founder of Outfield added: “We are delighted to welcome LCIF2 as an investor in Outfield. This investment will enable us to develop the customer base as well as adding new functionalities to the platform. Now is the time for new precision technologies to revolutionise this sector, supporting global food security and managing the environmental impacts of fruit growing”.

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