AgriTech and robotics company Muddy Machines has raised £1.5 million seed funding to automate crop harvesting.

The company’s technology allows farmers to precision harvest crops like asparagus. It claims its Sprout robot can drive through fields harvesting accurately for up to 16 hours a day with no need for breaks and no decline in performance.

The new round of funding – led by Regenerate Ventures and supported by Ponderosa Ventures, Jude Gomilla, Thrive/SVG Ventures and others – will be used to strengthen the company’s engineering team and build capacity to cope with more widespread adoption of its technology. 

It plans to build a small herd of battery-powered Sprout robots for the 2023 asparagus harvest season.

“The situation is desperate,“ said John Chinn of Cobrey Farms, the UK’s largest growers of asparagus. “It’s not about cutting costs of labour, but our inability to find it. We have a 12-week season and this technology is vital if we are to harvest the crop.”

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Muddy Machines developed its Sprout robot through trials this year on Chinn’s land. He added: “The Sprout machine is very impressive. It takes itself up and down the rows of asparagus and harvests the spears, putting them in a tray without causing any damage.” 

Paul Rous, MD at Regenerate Ventures, added: “We were impressed by Muddy Machines’ vision and the speed of technical development.

“This was a company founded in the midst of the first lockdown. Within two years they had a robot asparagus harvester built and commercially tested.”

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