Toro Invests in Startup Developing Drone-Powered Turf Sensing Tech for Golf Courses
The Toro Company, known for its lawnmowers, snowblowers and lawn maintenance systems, has made a minor investment in a Boston-based company that uses drones to help golf courses improve their turf and water management practices.
Bloomington-based Toro did not disclose the size of its investment or the terms of its partnership with GreenSight Agronomics in its announcement Tuesday.
“We are intrigued and see great potential to align with GreenSight Agronomics to apply their technologies and analytics with our water management expertise,” said Philip Burkart, vice president of Toro’s irrigation and lighting businesses, in a statement.
GreenSight, founded in 2015, has been developing a patent-pending system that incorporates both automated drones and sensors to give golf course professionals a thermal map of their course. Through the use of “detection analytics,” GreenSight said its technology can help to identify turf issues and find ways to improve turf health with less water, fertilizer and pesticides.
“As the golf industry expands its efforts to improve pay and more efficiently use water, the application and advancement of technology will play a vital role,” Burkart said.
Spending on mowing and maintenance systems is on the rise at golf courses nationwide, according to a 2017 state of the industry report by Ohio-based publication Golf Course Industry. Fifty-eight percent of the golf courses surveyed said mowing equipment ranked atop their list of highest capital expenditures for the year with the average budget rising about 46 percent from 2015 to $45,646. In the case of private courses, the average cost is about $10,000 more.
All in all, the average golf course in the U.S. dedicates nearly $800,000 toward maintaining its ranges, greens, bunkers, ponds and surrounding land, the report said. Compared to five years ago, spending averaged around $622,500.
“We look forward to working with the GreenSight team on ways to integrate their technologies into our Lynx Central Control system,” Toro’s Burkart said, “with the intent of expanding the capabilities and access to timely course information so customers can address problems quickly and more precisely.”