Remote-controlled feeding tools
Digital tools are gaining momentum among farmers. With its smart feeding software for dairy cows the start-up "fodjan" has attracted new investors.
GPS and sensor technology have been a part of agriculture for quite some time now. But not just the cultivation of fields can be simplified by the digitization. Radio chips and the likes are also useful to optimize animal husbandry by monitoring animal health and thus increasing revenue. Last fall a survey by Germany's Digital Association bitkom together with the German Farmers’ Association (DBV) revealed that the majority of farmers are already using or would like to use digital technologies in the near future.
Cloud-based calculations of feed rations
These days also more and more companies are focusing on smart farming. The Dresden-based start-up fodjan is aiming to establish itself as a specialist in the field of efficient feed management for livestock. To that end fodjan developed a software that can be controlled remotely via a computer, and is thus offering farmers a tool for smart farming. In September 2014 an interdisciplinary team at the HTW Gründungsschmiede Dresden (Consulting Centre for Company Founding) consisting of Carsten Gieseler (agricultural economist), Michael Schütze (business economist), Daniel Schreck (web developer) und Johannes Völker (informatition) founded the fodjan GmbH.
Their aim was to develop an intelligent and cloud-based software that reduces the cost of feed and increases the efficiency of the farm, while simultaneously improving animal health. Especially reducing the cost of feeding is in high demand, as the currently roughly 80,000 dairy farmers in Germany are paying 5.6 billion Euros for feed per year. Fodjan explains “To date, the available programs farmers can use to calculate feed rations could only do so in a linear way. Requirements of the herd or inventory of the animal feed were disregarded in the calculations. This is what we wanted to improve upon.” Their new software now allows for these complex calculations. And it is not only calculating the rations, but also presents them in a clear and concise way. After three years in development and several successful pilot projects, fodjan has been available as a “Softwar-as-a-Service” (SaaS) since October 2014.
Optimizing cost of feed and animal health
For the benefit of animal health the newest scientific data are being used to analyze and adjust the feed rations. According to fodjan the new software with its multiobjective approach based on a specific algorithm offers a complex and individually adjusted overview of feed rations for each farm. Compared to other available products this software combines several goals like cost efficiency and animal health instead of focusing on cost minimizing. The company also explains that prior technical knowledge is not necessary, and that “every dairy farmer could easily use the software program”. Co-founder Gieseler developed the idea for the smart feeding software during his own university studies in agriculture and business administration and was awarded the agricultural industry funding prize in 2015.
Old and new investors join Series A financing
The latest financing round of the fodjan GmbH once again demonstrates the growing market for smart farming and highlights the potential for investors. Already at the conception of the company the High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) was one of its investors, and now the HTGF expanded its commitment even further. Klaus Lehmann from the HTGF says: “fodjan GmbH’s technologies address the most important cost factor for livestock farmers – feed costs – and are therefore of huge economic and ecological significance. Through its products, fodjan offers a diverse range of partners across the value chain – from farmers and feed suppliers to dairies – the opportunity to increase their profitability without neglecting animal health.” A new addition among the financing partners is the Technologiegründerfonds Sachsen (TGFS). Markus Michal, CEO of the TGFS states “Above all, we were impressed by the way fodjan is able to reconcile economic and ecological factors”. In conjunction with the HTGF and the “Siegmund Beteiligungsgesellschaft mbH“ a new Series A financing over an unknown amount was now secured.
At the same time fodjan also found a new ideal strategic partner in the shape of the Lely Group from the Netherlands. Lely is a specialist in technology and automation for the dairy cattle farming industry. Their combined long-term goal for the future is to keep advancing the software and adapt it to the needs of the farmers.