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AgTech — short for Agricultural Technology and used interchangeably with Agricultural Bioscience Technology (AgBioScience), is the application of technology and other innovations to revolutionize agricultural practices, ultimately increasing productivity, efficiency, and sustainability. 

What is AgTech?

Written by Jason Penrod and AgriNovus Indiana Staff.

AgTech encompasses a broad range of innovations aimed at enhancing efficiency, profitability, and sustainability across the entire agricultural value chain. This dynamic field includes advancements in hardware and software, novel business models, and the application of emerging technologies to address the challenges faced by the agricultural sector. The primary goal of AgTech is to provide effective solutions that can help agribusinesses adapt to evolving consumer demands and enter new markets, while maintaining a strong focus on environmental sustainability. 

One of the most exciting aspects of AgTech is the increasing prominence of digital solutions. These technologies harness the power of data, sophisticated tools, and decision-support systems to assist agribusinesses in optimizing their operations. From precision agriculture and IoT sensors to artificial intelligence and machine learning, digital AgTech innovations empower farmers and industry stakeholders with valuable insights that drive better decision-making and resource management, ultimately boosting productivity and minimizing waste. 

Examples of Technologies Driving AgTech and AgBioScience Innovation.

The driving force behind the rapid development and adoption of AgTech is the need for the agriculture sector to remain profitable and responsive in a rapidly changing world. Agribusiness, who has long been at the forefront of innovation to meet the needs of a growing global population, must now contend with new challenges, including climate change, diminishing resources, and shifting consumer preferences. AgTech provides transformational approaches that enable the agriculture industry to navigate these challenges while maintaining productivity and competitiveness, thus securing a sustainable and prosperous future for the sector. 

AgTech: Table of Contents

Here are a few examples of the areas where AgTech and AgBioScience is driving innovation:

Precision Agriculture.

Precision agriculture leverages advanced technologies like GPS, drones, and sensors to collect and analyze data on crop health, soil conditions, and weather patterns. This data-driven approach enables farmers to make well-informed decisions about resource allocation and crop management, ultimately maximizing yields and minimizing waste.  

Key Technologies Include: 

Satellite and Drone Imagery:

High-resolution images provide real-time data on crop growth, enabling farmers to detect issues like pest infestations and nutrient deficiencies early on. 

IoT Sensors:

A network of smart sensors installed throughout the fields collect data on soil moisture, temperature, and nutrient levels, which helps optimize irrigation and fertilizer usage.  

Automated Farm Equipment:

GPS-guided tractors, planters, and harvesters ensure precise seeding, cultivation, and harvesting, reducing input costs and environmental impacts.

Vertical Farming.

Vertical farming is an innovative approach to agriculture that involves growing crops in vertically stacked layers or towers, often in controlled environments like greenhouses or repurposed urban spaces. This technique conserves land and water, reduces the need for pesticides, and can be practiced in urban environments, decreasing food transportation emissions. The integration of hydroponic, aeroponic, and aquaponic systems further enhances resource efficiency and crop productivity.

Gene Editing and Plant Breeding.

Advancements in gene editing and plant breeding technologies, such as CRISPR/Cas9, are driving the development of new crop varieties with improved traits. These modified crops can exhibit higher yields, enhanced nutritional profiles, and increased resistance to pests, diseases, and extreme weather conditions. As a result, farmers can grow more resilient and nutritious food with fewer resources, reducing the pressure on arable land and ecosystems. 

Robotics and Automation.

Farm labor shortages and rising costs are driving the adoption of robotics and automation in agriculture. From autonomous tractors and drones to robotic harvesters and fruit pickers, these machines can perform repetitive tasks with increased precision and efficiency. Additionally, machine learning algorithms enable these devices to learn from their environment and improve their performance over time, further enhancing productivity. 

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

AI and machine learning are increasingly being integrated into agricultural processes to enable data-driven decision making, predictive analytics, and improved resource management. AI-powered platforms can analyze vast amounts of data from various sources, such as satellite imagery, weather data, and IoT sensors, to generate actionable insights that inform farmers of the best practices for crop management, irrigation, and pest control. 

Indiana's Economic Growth in AgTech and AgBioScience.

Indiana’s agricultural community is a robust and rapidly growing sector, contributing significantly to the state’s overall economy. In recent years, it has experienced remarkable growth, with its direct contribution increasing by over $6 billion since 2018, reaching a total of $58 billion. Additionally, Indiana’s AgBioScience sector indirect output for this time frame is estimated at $91 billion. This growth rate has been the fastest since measurements began in 2012, demonstrating the sector’s strength and resilience amidst global challenges such as the pandemic, supply chain disruptions, and rising inflation. 

The AgBioScience economy in Indiana encompasses various subsectors, including value-added food and nutrition, animal health and nutrition, agricultural equipment, technologies and systems, and plant science and crop protection. Each of these subsectors has experienced growth between 2018 and 2021:

Value-added Food and Nutrition.

Value-added food and nutrition transforms basic agricultural commodities into something more valuable, and gain a competitive edge in the market. This platform is designed to upgrade agriculturally produced goods beyond their original state by processing them further down the supply chain, creating innovative food products with enhanced nutritional value and health benefits. 

This subsector, which remains the largest component of Indiana’s agbioscience economy, experienced a 2% growth during the period and has an output of $29.9 billion. 

Animal Health and Nutrition.

From basic to advanced nutrition and feed products, Animal Health & Nutrition delivers the therapeutic solutions and diagnostics necessary for maintaining the health of livestock, poultry, and even companion animals. 

This subsector saw the most significant growth at 27.3%, reaching $5.5 billion. It has been the fastest-growing innovation-based platform in Indiana’s agbioscience economy over the last decade. 

Agricultural Equipment, Technologies, and Systems.

This sector specializes in developing machinery and systems for crop development, farming materials handling, storage solutions, agricultural distribution networks, farm production operations and digital technology incorporation. We use data analysis to ensure that our innovations are the best of the best. 

With a 16.8% growth, this subsector reached $2.2 billion and stands as the second-fastest growing platform since 2012.

Plant Science and Crop Protection.

Plant science and crop protection can maximize agricultural productivity by developing crops with greater yields, abiotic stress resistance, and pest/disease immunity; introducing varieties with superior functional qualities; as well as producing bespoke crop protection chemicals, fertilizers, soil inoculants and other chemical or biologic inputs. 

This subsector experienced a 7.2% growth, reaching $3.3 billion, and posted positive growth for the first time since 2012. 

The total economic impact of agbioscience in Indiana, which includes direct output as well as indirect and induced impacts on other industries, grew from $76 billion in 2018 to $91 billion in 2021. Additionally, agbioscience employment in the state increased by 7.5% from 2018 to 2021, with average wages for agbioscience jobs (excluding farm proprietors) reaching over $69,000, which is more than 3% higher than the average 2021 private-sector wage in Indiana. 

Indiana’s agbioscience sector demonstrates its capacity for innovation and adaptation in response to global demands across food, animal health, plant science, and agtech, paving the way for continued growth and economic prosperity.

The Growth of Indiana's AgBioScience Economy.

AgriNovus Indiana, similar to TechPoint, is a Central Indiana Corporate Partnership initiative. AgriNovus Indiana has played a crucial role in driving the growth and expansion of Indiana’s agbioscience economy. The organization’s efforts have led to significant economic growth across all four targeted agbioscience platforms in the state, positioning them for future innovation-driven growth. Several recent major agbioscience-related economic development announcements serve as evidence of AgriNovus Indiana’s impact on the state’s economy: 

Elanco’s recent announcement to construct a sprawling 220,000 square-foot six-story office building in downtown Indianapolis is intended to create an animal health hub for the city. This ambitious development will also include connecting innovation and collaboration buildings that are sure to revolutionize veterinary medicine in the region. 

Corteva’s decision to select Indianapolis for its global headquarters strengthens the city’s reputation as a major player in agbioscience. 

With a remarkable success in fundraising, Inari managed to acquire an impressive amount of $475 million in equity. Thanks to this investment, the company will now have ample funds to expand their investments and operations within Indiana. 

Taranis announced that Westfield, Indiana has been chosen as their global headquarters and the recent achievement of another funding round. This brings Taranis’ total equity raised up to an impressive $99.6 million. 

BiomEdit, a microbiome startup spun off from Elanco and based in Indiana, just completed its impressive Series A round of funding reaching $40 million. 

Greenleaf Foods intends to build the most extensive plant-based protein production facility across North America in Indiana, resulting in the creation of 460 job opportunities upon its launch.

These developments demonstrate the success of AgriNovus Indiana’s efforts in attracting major agbioscience players to the state, fostering innovation and collaboration. Indiana is at the forefront of innovation, with its scientists and engineers actively striving to boost agricultural productivity, optimize resource usage efficiency, improve environmental sustainability, and discover new sustainable applications for farm products. 

As a result of AgriNovus Indiana’s strategic initiatives and the subsequent growth of the agbioscience sector, Indiana’s economy is experiencing significant positive impact, with the sector well-positioned to continue generating substantial economic benefits for the state in the future. 


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