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Winners Follow-up: William Wells, 2019 Agri-tech Innovator of the Year

From the UK to Canada, Poland and Russia, there’s no stopping agri-tech company Hummingbird Technologies and the formidable team behind it.

Founded by farmer’s son Will Wells, Hummingbird Technologies seems unstoppable – and the past 12 months have been no exception.

The company, which combines drone and satellite technology with machine learning to analyse and map crop disease, yields and areas for improvement, has continued to expand rapidly.

So much so, that it now has a presence in eight countries – the UK, Brazil, Australia, Russia, Ukraine, New Zealand, Canada, and most recently, Poland.

In the UK, Hummingbird Technologies products are helping growers analyse and manage wheat, barley, lettuce, oilseed rape, potatoes and maize. But with services now in most of the world’s major cropproducing countries, the range of crops the company covers has been expanding too.

These now include grasslands in Canada, cotton in Australia, sunflowers in Russia, sugar beet in Ukraine, and soybeans in Brazil.

And the scale of farmland covered is huge. Since it began operating in 2016, Hummingbird Technologies has covered more than 500,000 hectares of arable crops for farming and agri-business customers, with this expanding all the time.

Not only that, but as well as winning Agri-Tech Innovator of the Year at last year’s British Farming Awards, the company also won KPMG’s much coveted Best British Tech Startup.

But none of this success has come easy and has been the result of some serious groundwork put in by Will, the chief executive officer of Hummingbird Technologies.


Growing up on a farm in the south west of England, Will’s mother, a plant pathologist, kick-started his fascination with technology, specifically artificial intelligence, and its potential for agriculture.

Will says: “Before starting the company I spoke to 500 farmers, agronomists and landowners across the UK about their businesses,associated pain points and what they felt would be innovative and most importantly of practical use to farmers.

“These views were central to Hummingbird Technologies’ creation. I then started the company at Imperial College London in their incubator, and afterwards formed a vital partnership with Velcourt, which helped boost research and start farm trials.”

Hummingbird Technologies then worked with an impressive list of research organisations to develop its technology and products. Its core research partners are Imperial College London, The University of Nottingham, Universitat Bonn, Rothamsted Research, Cranfield University, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece), NIAB, University College London and Harper Adams.

Its main farming and trial partners are Beeswax Dyson Farming, Velcourt, Worth Farms Spearhead, Hutchinson and BASF.

Will says: “Our investors have played a huge part in our development supporting us over the years

“In addition a grant win from the European Space Agency of over £1.5 million to explore the new application of satellite data, has further played a large role in our evolution.”

The company also received funding from the EU’s Rural Development Fund, and closed an £8m funding round just before it entered the British Farming Awards last year.

The company has an new innovative carbon project currently underway, that will bring together key sustainability metrics and enable farmers to see their own environmental impact through an easy-to-use digital dashboard.

Data from satellites and microwave radiation will track sustainable practice and combine this with organic carbon measurements taken from soil samples.

Values and data will be contextualised through comparison of individual farms to national and regional values.

Farmers will be able to share their sustainability measurements and progress with stakeholders who may need to monitor it, opening up all sorts of opportunities for government, brands and certification schemes.

“Winning the award is a fantastic achievement and a validation of all the hard work that has been done”

This could include collecting data on carbon sequestered to feed into carbon markets.


Right now, the company is focusing on tillage assessment, crop residues, cover crops assessment and crop rotations. These tools will form the basis of a global offering that will verify sustainability practices at scale at an affordable cost. Grant and commercial funding, and strategic industry partnerships are being sought with the aim of creating a leading carbon/ sustainability solution.

Alongside this, work is continuing on a more general sustainability dashboard, which will include the assessment of natural capital.

In March, Hummingbird Technologies’ existing products also became fully integrated with John Deere farm machinery and the John Deere operations centre.

Alexander Jevons, Hummingbird Technologies’ chief marketing officer, says: “We are working on improving the other integrations for the cloud services offered by equipment manufacturers, such as AGCO covering Massey, Fendt, Fuse, Topcon, Trimble, Raven Slingshot, Agrirouter, 365FarmNet, CNH and AFS Connect.

“Moreover, we are building on our integration with farm management platforms such as Gatekeeper and Muddyboots in the UK, and others in Ukraine and Canada.”

Other developments include a new variable rate fungicide product that allows farmers to select zones across a field and decide the chemical product rates per zone, so they can precision target applications better.

A new benchmarking leaderboard tool will also allow growers, agronomists and farm managers to compare the performance of fields over time and identify the root cause of lower performance.

New analytics features to existing products include a field leaderboard that allows farmers to quickly focus on the fields most in need of attention across their entire farm, saving time and maximising impact when performing field visits and crop walks.

Another new feature called compare fields, will enable farmers to view the performance of their fields across an entire season and compare it with other fields from previous seasons.

With ongoing crop trials, partnerships and product developments across countries, Hummingbird Technologies shows no signs of slowing down.