This week we focused on the growing push of technology in the agricultural sector. An estimated 50% of the world’s land is used for agriculture. With the world’s growing population, we need an increase in food production and sustainable agricultural practices to support upcoming generations. By 2050, the global population is expected to exceed 9 billion people. We are always looking for innovators and start-ups that can bring innovation and technology to the agricultural sector.
Just recently, Land O’Lakes acquired Geosys, a global technology firm that provides satellite imaging and insights to agribusiness with goal to develop tomorrow’s agricultural technology. Geosys applies advanced agronomics to information technologies, such as geographic information system and remote sensing, to provide a better understanding of crop production. Alongside Geosys, Land O’Lakes also owns Winfield Solutions, LLC, a distributor of crop protection products, seeds, and technology to drive yield through sustainable practices. This acquisition will allow Geosys to expand and provide farmers with the cutting-edge technology for their land and is a great exit example for ag tech investors.
According to Steve Rhodes, the CEO of the venture capital firm The Trendlines Group, agricultural technology should be Israel’s next technological sector. The Trendlines Group currently supports Catalyst AgTech, an Israeli company focused on reducing groundwater contamination, Saturas, a sensor which detects how much water is plants have absorbed and currently need, and other start ups. This year Israel held its second annual Agrivest Conference sponsored by the Mofet-Trendlines Venture Accelerator. To promote innovation, the government has increased the agricultural development budget to Israeli Shekel 100 million (roughly USD$28.3 million). In addition, the government is currently working to launch a “encyclopedia meets cloud database” for agricultural information. This will act as a tool available on all devices to enable farmers to make informed decisions.
After finalizing its purchase of $930 million for Climate Corp, Monsanto aims to change global farming. Climate Corp uses algorithms to divide the country into plots, then generate 10,000 daily weather scenarios for each of them. By doing so, Monsanto can help farmers create individualized insurance policies covering major perils. For example, the data can determine temperatures that could interfere with crop growth so the insured farmer will receive a check for his losses. Additionally, farmers can monitor fertilization and irrigation electronically and update as necessary. Monsanto will charge around USD$40 per acre and believes it will yield USD$20 billion in the next couple of years.
Farmforce, a cloud-based mobile platform that keeps track of pesticides residues in produce, is helping small-scale farmers in Kenya store and manage data. Farmers can digitally manage data on pesticide content and export the reports to stakeholders. Farmforce will replace the manual and time-consuming method of record keeping. With this technology, small farmers can overcome the quality standard requirements they have had issues with before. Moreover, countries like Uganda have begun using cloud-based platforms to store agricultural information and access financial services. Other countries like Ghana, Guatemala, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe have expressed interest as well.