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Since its foundation in 1890, Kubota has been investing considerable amounts of resources in understanding and overcoming the agricultural challenges farmers face. It has been doing that by working closely with them in Japan and other countries worldwide.

The Japanese company is now moving forward in the Smart Agriculture sector. Its focus there is on reducing labour costs and increasing the quality of production-based automation and data-based precision farming.

What Does Kubota Invest in?

“We invest in promising ag-tech start-ups and advanced technologies with focus on specialty crops (fruits, vegetables & wine), as well as in hay and forage automation,” says Daria Batukhtina, Business Development Manager in Innovation Centre Europe.

In the food sector, Kubota aims to go beyond their existing business domains focused on crop production to provide total solutions that support the food value chain. This encompasses the entire scope of agricultural production from purchasing to processing, sales, and consumption.

The Innovation Centre plans on moving forward with solutions that support highly profitable farms. From cultivation to operational management, Kubota is working towards generating a wide range of benefits for farmers.

Values That Drive the Company’s Leadership

The vision of Kubota Innovation Centre Europe is to push things forward with innovative solutions and new ideas for products and services that bring additional value to farmers and impacts on their wellbeing and profitability.

The team’s assignments include work on open innovation, as well as collaborating with start-ups and technology partners, while getting the full support from the headquarters to do real investments in such companies.

“We believe open innovation in smart agriculture will be the key to solving global issues,” shares Daria Batukhtina.

Impact and Biggest Achievements

The COVID-19 pandemic further propelled the Kubota Group to expand its community-based business operations and deliver integrated and collaborative solutions, technological advancements, and unique customer value in every segment of its business.

Currently, Kubota develops and manufactures a broad portfolio of innovative equipment for the agriculture sector: from tractors and tillage equipment to harvesters and robotics – for both wet and dry farming – at all scales.

In 2019, Kubota established innovation centres in Japan and Europe as divisions for the creation of new business ventures, products, and services. In just five months, the European team, ICE, established a robust innovation process to generate new concepts that provide added value to existing products and markets.

“At Kubota Innovation Centre, we look not only at the challenges that exist now but also at those that might appear later, in addition to issues the markets, customers, and the global community may experience 5 years from now, and even 10 years from now,” proudly says Ms. Batukhtina.

Investments in Start-ups

In 2020-2021, Kubota ICE invested in three start-ups:

  • Trapview – a technology leader in automated pest monitoring and forecasting. Through their investment in Trapview, Kubota intends to accelerate innovation in the monitoring and forecasting of pests, offering an innovative and efficient solution to farmers.
  • SeeTree – an Israeli start-up that monitors the health of trees for fruit growers. SeeTree collects ultra-high-resolution images captured by drones and multi-spectral sensors and tree and soil samples. After that, it analyses the data through the platform’s machine-learning algorithms. Such advanced farming technologies could double farmer’s income from a long-term perspective and directly influence their wellbeing.
  • Tevel, the leader of flying autonomous fruit-picking robots. Kubota is committed to help solve fruit growers’ problems in providing security for harvesting timing and quality and to deal with the increasing labour issues that growers are facing nowadays.

By combining its mechanical technologies with advanced fruit-growing technologies, Kubota has been also working with the Dutch start-up, Aurea Imaging, on demonstrations of automation solutions for fruit-growing systems.

Fruit-growing is one area of farming that offers enormous growth potential as it has yet to be fully mechanised. Aurea combines data from drones and IoT sensors with AI to provide services such as yield prediction and soil mapping for fruit growers.

“By combining this advanced sensing technology with Kubota's agricultural machinery for orchards, we will verify the feasibility of providing comprehensive fruit-growing solutions,” concludes Ms. Batukhtina.