Autonomous tractor maker Monarch raises $61 million

Way back in March, autonomous tractor maker Monarch announced a $20 million Series A. Now, a mere eight months later, the company is tripling the round, with a $61 million Series B. This latest raise is led by sustainable food fund Astanor Ventures, with participation from CNH Industrial, At One Ventures and Trimble Ventures.

The Bay Area-based firm says the funding will go toward scaling manufacturing and sales for its self-titled electric tractor. The system was introduced this year, with a pilot at a local vineyard. That was one of 15 initial pilots, ahead of a planned delivery of production units in Q4 of this year.

Monarch’s clearly striking while the iron is hot on the funding front, as the pandemic has accelerated labor shortages on farms across the U.S. Many farm owners have been looking toward automated and robotic solutions, though current offerings run the gamut when it comes to deployment.

“Fruit and vegetable farmers have long been ignored in the electrification and automation movement, and that’s why the Monarch platform is built with them in mind,” CEO and co-founder Praveen Penmetsa said in a statement. “Due to the ever-increasing labor challenges, sustainability concerns, and food traceability and scrutiny issues farmers face, we have experienced great demand for the unique solutions Monarch Tractor offers.”

Along with the new funding infusion, the company is announcing plans to extend pilots globally, to South America, Europe and Asia.