Innovation Profile: Rantizo

Michael Ott

Rantizo Expands Uses of Drones in Agriculture

Being at the cutting edge of a new industry often means not just developing a new technology, but adapting as regulations and policies are created to catch up with those advancements.

Iowa City-based Rantizo has led the way in developing technologies and equipment for using drones in agricultural applications, as well as working with customers, regulators and farmers to ensure drone technology is deployed in the most safe, economical and efficient ways possible. In December 2020, the company announced a $7.5 million Series A funding round led by Leaps by Bayer with participation from several other agtech investors.

Rantizo has developed a unique drone technology that delivers targeted spraying for a variety of agricultural applications, including herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, pollen, cover crop seeds and more. In 2019, the company became the first in Iowa legally authorized to use drones for the aerial application of agrichemicals. In 2020, the company’s contractor network grew to 30 contractors in 15 states.

“Our core mission is to help solve the labor issues across agriculture,” said Michael Ott, CEO of Rantizo. “In all areas of agriculture, in all geographies, there are more people to feed and not enough people to work on the farms.”

In July 2020, the company received approval from the FAA for drone swarming, which allows up to 3 of the drones with 14 foot booms to work together in a field. An individual drone can cover up to 14 acres per hour.

“With these approvals we became the first and only company approved for nationwide swarming of up to 3 drones in rural areas,” said Ott. “This allows our contractors to increase productivity significantly by tripling the capabilities of Rantizo drones with a single pilot.”

Looking ahead, Rantizo is planning for both new product introductions and expansion in 2021.

“We anticipate rapidly expanding our Contractor network in 2021, with plans to be in 30 states and bring our Contractor count to over 100,” said Ott. “There will be more Rantizo drones in fields delivering solutions for growers, which has us very excited.”

The company plans to release its Mix & Fill station early in 2021 which will allow for precise batch mixing of agrichemicals while eliminating waste. It will also reduce the amount of down time required to refill the drone, which in turn will boost the number of acres possible to cover in an hour.

The coronavirus pandemic opened opportunities to new collaborations as Rantizo drone technology can be used to sanitize stadiums and other public places. For example, a Rantizo contractor in Indiana used his drone to sanitize the community’s high school football stadium.

Rantizo’s Iowa location has been a benefit to the company’s product development, testing and commercial launch. Ott participated in the 2018 cohort of the Iowa Startup Accelerator (ISA) program based in Cedar Rapids, which is an intensive, highly focused 14-week program aimed at early-stage (pre- or early-revenue) companies based in Iowa.

“We believe strongly in collaboration and working with universities, farmers and other companies to put things together that no one has done before,” said Ott. “The opportunities for those collaborations in the Cultivation Corridor are incredible. We are surrounded by people and organizations who are forward-thinking and working with all of them is key to the success of our company and delivering value to farmers.”