Urban water Digital Solutions Americas

Smart valve company secures €6.5 million seed funding for R&D

Tuesday, 28 May 2024

California-based smart-valve company Lumo has secured €6.5 million seed funding. The funding will enable the company to invest in research into upgrading its irrigation infrastructure and improving its water stewardship.

Automated irrigation for California farmers

Lumo defines its mission as helping to protect the future of farmers. Its automated irrigation systems are used by dozens of farmers in the California, especially in Napa, Sonoma, and Central Coast.

Its Lumo One smart valve allows flow rates to be monitored, helping farmers to better understand how their irrigation systems are performing, and giving them control over how much water is applied to their crops at all times, avoiding excess water use.

“As labour costs continue to rise, groundwater regulations continue to pass, and the impacts of climate change continue to be felt, time is of the essence,” Devon Wright, Lumo’s CEO, and founder, said.

“Growers need to move quickly to take tighter control of their water management practices, irrigate with greater precision, get ahead of regulations, and eliminate waste from their operations. Our future food and water security depends on upgrading our irrigation infrastructure and improving our water stewardship as soon as we possibly can.”

Irrigation challenges facing farmers

Until recently, California had suffered years of drought conditions. However, heavy rains over the winter of 2023 and the start of this year have helped alleviate conditions such that northern California is now considered drought-free. The state’s two largest reservoirs are both full for the first time in a number of years: the largest, Lake Shasta was at 39 per cent volume in April 2023, but is now full.

The recent drought and more recent severe storms offer warnings about water availability and quality, which is why controlled irrigation is important.

Lumo’s smart-valve technology has particular application for speciality crops, which are often planted in less uniformly (when compared to row crops, which are planted in lines and, therefore, make harvesting and watering easier).

Libby Spalding, vice president at Fall Line Capital, said: “While automated irrigation is well adopted in row crops, we have not observed that trend in specialty crops due to the unique management needs and the importance of reliability.”

She added: “Lumo’s system leverages advances in fluid dynamics and connectivity that enables automation in specialty crops. Irrigation management will be key to optimizing production and adapting to volatility of water availability.”

Investment and continued support

The investment round was led by Active Impact Investments with support from Fall Line Capital. Active Impact is Canada’s largest climate tech seed fund, its founder and managing partner, Mike Winterfield, will be joining Lumo’s board of directors.

Mike Winterfield, founder and managing partner at Active Impact, said: “Acute water stress affects half the world’s population and is accelerating with climate change. Lumo addresses the shockingly high amount of inefficiency in agricultural irrigation, which is the largest use of our world’s water today.”

He added: “With fast-paced customer adoption, an impressive founding team, and a truly differentiated solution, Lumo is well-positioned to become a market leader in irrigation automation and, in time, the world’s largest system of record for water use data.”


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