Iowa City startup that uses drones to spray, seed crops raises $7.5 million to add workers, expand services
An Iowa City agriculture startup that uses drones to seed cover crops and apply herbicides and pesticides, among other applications, says it’s received $7.5 million in investment to expand.

Rantizo, which provides precision in-field applications, said Wednesday it’s raised $7.5 million from investors, led by Leaps by Bayer, a unit of ag giant Bayer that helps finance new innovations and startups.

Other investors include Fall Line Capital, a California farmland and technology investment company, co-founded by an Iowa native; Tennessee-based Innova Memphis that invests in biosciences, tech and ag tech; and Sukup Manufacturing, an Iowa company that builds grain bin and drying products.

Rantizo said it’s raised nearly $9 million since it launched in 2018, and plans to use the most recent round to expand where it will provide services. It now operates primarily in the Midwest, but the company says it has pushed farther east and west.

“This year, Rantizo received requests from growers and individuals all over the country looking for drone application services,” said CEO Michael Ott in a statement. “We did our best to fulfill those and realize that we need to continue to expand our network.”

Ott said the company also will use the investment to add staff to ramp up development of technology around crop pollination, data management, and automation of the entire drone application process.

Rantizo said it received initial FAA approval for single drone spraying operations in 2019, the first and only company approved for drone spraying in Iowa. Less than a year later, the company became the first to gain approval for national agricultural spraying that uses three drones at once, called swarming.

Rantizo said drone application can reduce problems tied to conventional spraying such as soil compaction, chemical drift and overuse. It also can cut equipment costs and reduce carbon emissions tied to traditional sprayer use, the company said.

Jürgen Eckhardt, who leads Leaps by Bayer, said Rantizo improves sustainability while helping improve farmers’ profits. “This is better for the crop, better for the land, and better for the farmer; leading us towards a more sustainable food supply,” Eckhardt said in a statement.