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Global Ag Investing reports:

Oakland, California-based Ceres Imaging, an ag-focused aerial spectral imaging and analytics startup, announced it has raised $25 million in Series B funding led by Insight Venture Partners and including Romulus Capital.

This round not only brings total funding-to-date for the company to $35 million, but represents the largest single investment in the agricultural spectral imaging category in history.

"Ceres Imaging's innovative technology solutions allows them to partner with farmers in California, the U.S. Midwest, and Australia to solve the world's most important agriculture issues," said Harley Miller, vice president at Insight Venture Partners. "We couldn't be more excited to welcome them to Insight Venture Partners' portfolio, and look forward to helping the team advance farming efficiency across the globe."

Originally begun as an agricultural drone developer, Ceres Imaging founder and CEO Ashwin Madgavkar told Tech Crunch that it was soon evident that drones would not meet the needs of commercial agricultural producers who need to monitor thousands of acres in detail.

This led to the company shifting its focus to developing proprietary sensors and cameras that are mounted on fixed wing aircraft. This approach allows the company to gather higher resolution and better quality images compared to satellite imagery while also achieving greater scale and consistency compared to drones.

The company, which has worked with UC Davis to fine-tune its analytics platform, uses proprietary image sensors, computer vision, machine learning, and plant science to inform farmers to changes in their fields and crops, including individual plant water and nutrient content and stress levels weeks before they are evident to the naked eye.

This technology enables farmers to target in on diseased spots before it affects the crop at large; to reduce the amount of pesticides and fungicides used in production; and to get "more crop per drop" - greater crop yields using less water.

"Our imagery helps farmers cope with a changing world full of challenges such as climate variability, labor shortages, and depressed markets," said Ashwin Madgavkar, founder and CEO of Ceres Imaging. "Like the farmers we serve, we know that agriculture is more than a business. Our growers care deeply about their land and about the food they grow. From grain farmers in the Midwest to California vineyards and almond orchards, these farmers are careful with resources, not just for their bottom line, but because they are stewards of the land."

This Series B follows a $7.5 million Series A raised by the company in the fourth quarter of 2017, also led by Romulus.

"Ceres combines better imaging technology, best-in-class scientific analytics, a world-class team, and a really humble and collaborative approach to a massive, intelligent, and hungry industry that is often tricky to sell into," said Romulus founder, Krishna K. Gupta in the spring of 2017. "Unlike most of its competitors, Ceres has found a way to create a measurable impact on the bottom line for its customers. We're really excited to be working with Ceres and look forward to working with them to expand their product suite and global footprint."

Ceres Imaging is planning to use the fresh capital to support the advancement of its computer vision and AI technologies, to expand its technical team, and to fund targeted imagery products for new markets.

"Ceres Imaging is uniquely positioned in the market, with the right team, technology and product offering to help realize sustainable crop yields for farmers, and Insight Venture Partners is thrilled to help them scale in this journey," said Deven Parekh, managing director at Insight Venture Partners.

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