Following the footsteps of agricultural informatization in Europe and the United States, in recent years, a group of entrepreneurs in China have entered the bureau and cut into the field of agricultural production management to realize the informatization of agricultural production. They use sensors, hardware, remote sensing and other means to collect agricultural data, establish crop growth models, and help farmers standardize planting processes and sell agricultural products.
Players have concentrated around 2015. So far, these companies have basically received capital support, raising millions to tens of millions. Therefore, this article focuses on agricultural production management, and talks about the market and player development status in this field, as a reference for entrepreneurship and investment.
This article will explore the following issues:
1. Market scale and development background of foreign smart agriculture;
2. The market size and mature conditions of China's smart agriculture;
3. Analysis of players and modes of agricultural production management industry entry;
4. Analysis of the comprehensive promotion ability of each player.
The content of this article mainly comes from interviews. In addition, according to some media's public reports, the arguments are inevitably biased and there is no intentional misleading.
Innate advantages of foreign agricultural development
In 2013, Monsanto acquired Climate Corporation for $ 930 million. The latter uses meteorological data to infer the extreme weather that affects agricultural production and planting, and farmers can purchase agricultural insurance to reduce losses accordingly.
Not limited to insurance business, this mode of collecting big data with sensors and other IoT devices to guide agricultural production has begun to emerge in the 1980s.
Since the new century, more and more foreign companies have chosen to enter the field of agricultural management by means of smart agriculture (using the Internet of Things to obtain data and managing agriculture with precise perception, control and decision-making).
There are two main reasons for this phenomenon:
First, sensors, remote sensing, remote monitoring, cloud computing and other underlying technologies are becoming more mature.
Second, foreign agriculture has inherent advantages. Take the United States as an example. Its land area is 9.37 million square kilometers, and plains below 500 meters above sea level account for 55% of the land area. The area of arable land is vast, with more than 2.8 billion mu accounting for more than 20% of the total land area. Among them, more than 70% of the cultivated land is concentrated in the Great Plains and inland lowlands, which are concentrated and distributed on a large scale.
In addition, American agriculture is based on family farms. Each farmer manages an average of 400 acres (about 2400 acres) of land, and has a high degree of professional and mechanized agricultural production.
The gradual informatization of domestic agriculture stems from the maturity of three conditions
CIC consultants mentioned in the "2016-2020 China's Smart Agriculture In-depth Investigation and Investment Prospect Forecast Report" that the smart agriculture market based on applications (hardware and network platforms and services) is expected to increase from USD 9.02 billion in 2016 (Approximately RMB 61.3 billion) to reach USD 18.45 billion (approximately RMB 125.4 billion) in 2022, with a CAGR of 13.8%.
In terms of external conditions, compared with the United States, China's land resources are "more people but less land." There are many land resources, but the per capita land occupation is small, and the per capita cultivated land area is less. At the same time, the agricultural land resources are relatively poor, there are few excellent places, and the layout is scattered.
However, in recent years, many players in China have also entered the agricultural production management industry. Under the objective conditions of lack of advantages, why can the current agriculture trend toward large-scale and information-based development? This stems from three background conditions.
The first is the maturity of the aforementioned underlying technology.
Second, the land turnover rate has increased year by year. From the data compiled by the Prospective Industry Research Institute, from 2010 to 2014, the land turnover rate increased linearly, from 187 million acres to 403 million acres, an increase of 115%.
In addition, statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture show that by June last year, the area of contracted cultivated land in the country was 460 million mu, more than one-third of the total area of contracted cultivated land. In Anhui Province, the farmland turnover rate was nearly 50% last year.
Third, changes have taken place in agricultural practitioners and agricultural operators.
The traditional agricultural population continues to decrease. According to relevant data, the number of urban and rural populations was close in 2010, and since then the rural population has decreased to 60346 million people. This means that the population engaged in agricultural production is declining.
The number of new types of professional farmers has continued to grow. Traditional farmers gradually withdrew from the historical stage, and "new farmers" (referring to those with scientific and cultural qualities, mastering modern agricultural production skills, and certain management capabilities, with agricultural production, management or service as their main occupation, and agricultural income as their main life Sources, agricultural practitioners living in rural or urban areas) will gradually become the main force of agricultural modernization development, with a total of more than 12.7 million people.
At the same time, new types of management entities have emerged, such as family farms, specialized farmer cooperatives, and leading enterprises in agricultural industrialization. According to China Information Network, as of the end of last year, the total number of these new agricultural operators was 2.8 million, including 877,000 family farms, 1.794 million cooperatives, and 386,000 agricultural industrialization organizations.
Based on the above industry changes, agricultural production is bound to shift from fragmented play to scale, standardization, and informationization. Therefore, agricultural cultivation and production still need scientific and technical people to manage scientifically and improve business efficiency.
Comparison of players in agricultural production management
Before explaining the players in the agricultural production management industry, you should first understand the agricultural industrial chain, which is divided into three parts: prenatal, middle, and postnatal. Agricultural production to be discussed in this article is in production.
(I) Founder background: Agriculture, technology or both
Under the above conditions, entrepreneurs with agricultural and technical backgrounds have entered the field of agricultural production management.
These entrepreneurs fall into three main categories:
First, there is an agricultural background, such as Qi Qiquan, the founder of Xin Shudao, and Rao Xiaoyu, the co-founder, with 5 years of experience in e-commerce for agricultural products;
The second is to have technical experience related to the current project, such as Lan Hai, founder and chairman of Okome, graduated from the Electronic Engineering University of the PLA with a major in electronic engineering. After graduation, he has been engaged in wireless communication and software technology development and research for a long time; Jiage Big Data Founder Zhang Gong, formerly a NASA Ames researcher.
The third is a combination of agricultural and technical backgrounds. For example, Cui Xinhua, the founder of Zhoutao Smart, started to grow vegetables in greenhouses when he was a child. He once served as an expert electronics engineer at Agilent (Singapore).
(Two) mode: three directions of information
These founders, who have both industry and technical experience, have invariably chosen to start with agricultural informatization. There are three main ways: information management platforms (such as agricultural SaaS), agricultural Internet of Things, and agricultural big data.
Among them, SaaS is divided into comprehensive categories and sub-categories: comprehensive agricultural SaaS serves multiple types of plants, and sub-agricultural SaaS serves single crops.
The comprehensive SaaS is represented by Ao Kemei, and its "Yita Helper" FRP platform has established more than 800 crop production processes, providing production management, resource planning management, precision marketing, quality traceability and other services for the farm.
The sub-categories are represented by "Grape Butler" under the Huiyun Information. "Grape Butler" standardizes four types of data: climate, soil, agricultural processes, and physiological indicators. It uses various sensors to understand the growth status of the crop at that time. After identifying leaf surface images and data model analysis, it provides customers with standard production guidance.
In terms of the number of farms covered, the comprehensive cloud platform is being promoted faster, but the segmented SaaS is more accurate: Since its launch in 2015, "Yitian Helper" has covered more than 6,000 farms; "Grape Butler" has been used in Guangxi , 10 grape plantation parks in Guangdong, 3000 acres of planting area.
The direction of the Internet of Things is represented by independent research and development of hardware products, such as Zhoutao Intelligence. Its independently developed Linpeng intelligent blower is used for temperature control in vegetable greenhouses. The device automatically controls the temperature according to the temperature level algorithm. Farmers can use the app to check greenhouse temperature, window opening distance, and remote manual intervention in emergency situations.
The companies that are positioned as agricultural big data platforms have different models, which are mainly reflected in data collection methods: for example, agricultural big data companies represented by large-climate agriculture, use the Internet of Things hardware to collect soil, weather, pests and diseases, and farming items in real time. And other information; Jiage Big Data uses satellite remote sensing to obtain the aforementioned information.
Compared to the situation of collecting data, both methods can obtain data in real time. The difference is that remote sensing technology can collect data on thousands of acres of arable land at the same time; the IoT hardware needs to set up base stations in relatively local areas, for example, 10 acres of planting area requires 10 base stations.
In addition, in terms of financing, the amount of financing for agricultural big data is greater than the agricultural SaaS platform, which in turn is larger than the agricultural Internet of Things companies. Among them, the financing amount of the agricultural comprehensive SaaS is larger than the sub-category SaaS.
Help farmers reduce costs and increase efficiency to promote agricultural products
Regardless of the product form, the final service is for farmers (mainly farms and cooperatives), and they may be the most valued group of products. The above players want to impress farmers. It is the company's solution that can effectively reduce costs for production, increase production value, and production efficiency.
(I) Cost reduction and efficiency improvement
In contrast, the agricultural production management mode of subdivided categories has a more obvious effect of increasing production capacity and output value. Last July, the vineyard output value of the first customer of "Grape Butler" increased from 12,000 to 20,000 in the past, and the yield increased by 70%.
The integrated model is more conducive to reducing costs and improving management efficiency. Taking Zhoutao Intelligence as an example, the Linpeng intelligent air blower developed by them is mainly for automatic ventilation of vegetable greenhouses. On average, 3 greenhouses (or 9 groups of motors) can save a complete labor force and save at least 20,000 yuan in labor costs a year.
In addition, Okome's management version of "Yita Helper" for direct supply farms can improve farm management efficiency by an average of 60%.
(B) Improve the experience: steward service, promotion of agricultural products
The agricultural production chain is long and cumbersome. In the view of Rao Xiaoyu, the co-founder of Xinshu Road, it is also a comprehensive problem, with various links interlaced and complex, and it is "not realistic to find the difference from a certain point."
In reality, the development trajectory of the above players fits this statement. They are not only related to the field of agricultural production management, but also cover a series of links from agricultural tool management to traceable sales of agricultural products, agricultural finance, etc., and provide relatively complete "housekeeping" services.
Among them, the sale of agricultural products has become a place for many enterprises to get involved sooner or later. Because in addition to production issues, farmers also face "difficult sales."
Data collected through the Internet of Things hardware and remote sensing technology can help farmers sell agricultural products. At this level, there are two approaches in the industry: one is to B, to expand channel providers, and the platform opens data to fresh channel dealers to help farms sell in large quantities; the other is to C, which is directed to consumers. For example, the platform adopts methods such as joint breeding and crowdfunding, which solves farmers' funding problems and sells agricultural products.
Companies such as Macroclimate Agriculture, Zhoutao Intelligence, and Xinshu Road are using or will use agricultural data to lay out traceability and sales of agricultural products. Therefore, the use of agricultural data to sell and purchase, scientific planting, marketing, may be an opportunity for startups.
Happy enclosure: cooperation with the government, going to sea, specializing in single products
In addition to solving the problems of cost, efficiency, and experience for farmers, the company's own operation and promotion capabilities are also critical.
Yao Hui, an analyst at Evergreen, said that the team that provides planting technology and services to large farmers and other farmers must not only understand the needs of farmers, but also the team's ability to scale up. "Pure technical teams are generally difficult to roll out. Teams with relatively strong comprehensive operational capabilities develop better."
Judging from the number of farms covered, the area and the planting area, the above companies are Okemi running ahead. At present, Okome covers more than 6,000 farms and 840,000 mu of planting area in the country.
On the one hand, Ocamee has time to take the lead. The company was founded in 2009, and began to transform in 2014. In 2015, it officially promoted the Yitian Helper SaaS platform. On the other hand, Ocomei has a team of more than 20 people in charge of government business, and cooperation with the government helps to promote products quickly.
In addition to conventional methods, government cooperation and other methods, macroclimate agriculture has another path: going to sea. Founder Yi Binghong believes that overseas markets have an advantage over domestic markets. The large-scale operation of foreign agriculture is more mature, and the agricultural structure and technology are also more perfect.
At present, climatic agriculture covers more than 600 farms in one year, and has deployed nearly 4,000 "agricultural eye" base stations, involving 31 prefecture-level cities in 15 provinces. In addition, the company has also entered the Russian and Australian markets.
Another method is to focus on single products. For example, "Grape Steward", today, "Grape Steward" manages more than 3000 acres of vineyards. It is reported that the company's SaaS platform for citrus category "citrus steward" is in the experimental stage.
In summary, we make the following preliminary judgments on the development of agricultural production management:
1. Entrepreneurs who have already entered the industry have an industry-related background, such as having agricultural, technical experience, or both. Therefore, entrepreneurs who want to enter the game are best to have some accumulation in the agricultural or technical level.
2. The premise of smart agriculture is the informationization of agricultural production, and the informationization in the field of agricultural production management is still promising. From the perspective of the number of customers and the amount of financing, agricultural big data companies are better, followed by a comprehensive agricultural SaaS platform.
But in terms of integrated services, Yi Binghong, the founder of climate agriculture, believes that this form is transitional. In the future, the industry will develop into vertical fields and produce unicorns. Of course, there are other opportunities in the midst of this--cutting into agricultural production management from subdivided fields, such as tea, medicinal materials, etc., setting a benchmark model, and then gradually promoting it.
Third, players who want to enter the industry should improve their scale promotion capabilities. Cooperating with the government, expanding business to countries with a high level of professional agricultural production, and focusing on subdividing categories are all good ways to quickly replicate the model.
Fourth, one of the benefits of agricultural informatization is to obtain a large amount of agricultural data. When the magnitude of the data is large enough, all agricultural production management companies may be inclined to develop into agricultural big data companies. Therefore, enterprises can focus on cultivating their ability to collect data, analyze and mine data, expand data dimensions, and improve data accuracy.
In the future, both consumers and the government can pay for these data: consumers need data to trace agricultural products, and the government needs data to macro-regulate the development of local agriculture.