Despite the rodent plague that threatened Australia’s $50 billion agricultural industry, we are poised for a second consecutive bumper harvest.

According to the latest forecasts from Rabobank, and based on the average seasonal conditions from here until harvest, Australia is set to produce 29 million tonnes of wheat, 10 million tonnes of barley and 4 million tonnes of canola.

This good news followed the breaking of the drought, and unfortunately also gave rise to a horror mice plague that saw millions of rodents swarming not only agricultural plantations, but also homes, schools, and hospitals in NSW and Qld.

A big chunk of this harvest has been pencilled in for the export market, but despite Australia’s well-known position as an agri exporter, the country seems to have been under-investing in agri technology.

According to research conducted by Agfunder, Australian agtech start-ups raised just $39 million in investment in 2018 — a small fraction of the $22 billion invested globally.

In total, there are around 300 agritech startups in Australia – which include AgriWebb, a US$39 million funded non-listed solutions company aimed at the livestock production industry.

Its software helps cattle farmers plot out their lands, moderate weights and health of cattle and monitor their movements, all remotely.

There’s also AquaSpy, a non-listed company founded in 1998 that provides a software that analyzes moisture and nutrient level of soil.

But on the ASX, there are only a handful of companies operating in the space. Interestingly, most of these companies have expanded to the cannabis cultivation industry, a sector that is set to boom in the coming years.

Roots Sustainable Agricultural Technologies Ltd (ASX: ROO)

The company’s patented Root Zone Temperature Optimisation technology is able to heat or cool crop roots as needed in one system, mitigating against temperature fluctuations.

This is critical in regions where daily and seasonal temperatures can vary significantly.

ROO also runs a plant and hemp-based meat operations in the USA.

It has been operating well in FY21, reporting a 660 per cent increase in sales orders during the latest half.

However, the ROO share price is down 35 per cent over the past year.

Roto-Gro International Limited (ASX: RGI)

The company owns the RotoGro Garden Systems, a patented technology which targets and helps the cultivation of fresh produce, and now, cannabis.

The device is installed in greenhouses, and provides plants with equal access to light and nutrients, providing consistent quality yields, and results in shorter harvest times.

RGI is in advanced discussions with licensed cannabis growers in North America, Europe and Australia to license the technology.

It is yet to make a profit, and the latest quarter shows its net operating cash outflow was $0.75 million.

Its share price has dipped by half in the past twelve months to 4.3c.

Bio-Gene Technology Ltd (ASX: BGT)

This company develops insecticides technology based on naturally occurring beta-triketones, a type of chemistry that offers new solutions for insect management control in crop protection (including grain storage), public health and consumer applications, and animal health.

It is currently progressing trials on its Flavocide pesticide for stored grain pests.

The latest half year showed a net loss of $1.33m, and its share price has risen by 13 per cent in the past year.

CropLogic Limited (ASX: CLI)

This is a financially troubled company which is currently under administration, and had its shares suspended by the ASX.

CropLogic provides management and agricultural technology to growers in the USA and ANZ, and focuses on soil monitoring technology.

The company was doing well up to 2019, but disaster struck last year when adverse weather impacted its trial farm’s hemp crop in Oregon, USA.

At present, CropLogic is looking to recapitalise the business.


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