Big growth in the ag-tech sector

Funding in the ag-tech sector nearly doubled in 2015, with more than $4.5 billion invested in everything from food e-commerce platforms to farm-2-consumer services, cannabis technology and drones used in what’s known as “precision agriculture.”

The investment total represents a 94 percent increase over 2014 totals and included 526 deals with 672 unique investors, according to ag-tech funding site Agfunder.

While the sector continued to diversify last year, food e-commerce continued to capture the largest share of the year’s deal volume in the United States, with $1.65 billion invested in such companies as NYC startups Blue Apron ($135 million) and HelloFresh ($126 million) and San Francisco chef-made-meal deliverer Munchery.

California’s Impossible Foods, which is developing “meats” and “cheeses” made entire from plant matter; Planet Labs, which is assembling a world-leading fleet of imaging satellites; and drone-maker 3D Robotics rounded out the top six U.S. investments.

Drones now make up almost half of the precision agriculture subsector, followed by satellite imagery, software and robotics, with technologies associated with irrigation and weather following.

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