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  • AgTech Digest: PowerPollen, CroBio & Smartbreeder Bag Funding; CNH, AGCO & Syngenta Post Financial Results and More!

AgTech Digest: PowerPollen, CroBio & Smartbreeder Bag Funding; CNH, AGCO & Syngenta Post Financial Results and More!

Get your weekly dose of agricultural technology news with updates on funding rounds and partnership announcements!

Good morning readers! This week we cover the latest funding rounds from the world of AgTech, including Miraterra, Smartbreeder, PowerPollen, and CroBio.

In this week's digest, we also cover the financial results released by CNH Industrial, Syngenta, AGCO, and Corteva. We also report on the latest partnership announcements made by CNH and the Louis Dreyfus Company.

Let’s dive into this week’s developments!

Funding Round

Miraterra Closes Seed Funding Led By At One Ventures

Miraterra has recently closed its Seed funding round, led by At One Ventures, and with investments from notable entities such as S2G Ventures, One Small Planet, Overview Capital, iSelect Fund, Starshot Capital, Pelican Ag, and Cisco Foundation. The company is focused on revolutionizing soil analysis within agriculture, making soil health measurements affordable and reliable. By using cutting-edge technology, such as the Digitizer, Miraterra aims to enhance precision and reduce costs associated with soil health analysis, which is crucial for environmental sustainability, food security, and climate resilience.

Nate Kelly, CEO of Miraterra, stated, “A race is on to meet the growing need for affordable, accurate soil data. Our solution uses a combination of remote sensing, proximal sensing, and advanced modeling to reduce the cost of testing while increasing rigor and reducing uncertainty.”

Smartbreeder Bags a $2.74M Investment

Smartbreeder secured a strategic investment of R$15 million from the EcoEnterprises Fund, recognizing its leadership in integrating AI with agronomy to enhance agriculture sustainability and productivity in Brazil. The investment will help Smartbreeder consolidate its presence in the sugar-energy sector and expand to other key agricultural sectors like grain production, fiber crops, and other high-value crops. Smartbreeder also plans to launch educational initiatives, including an MBA program integrating AI with agronomic knowledge.

John McKenna, Managing Director of the EcoEnterprises Fund, highlighted the significance of this investment. “After a detailed analysis of Brazil’s Agtech sector, we are convinced that Smartbreeder’s artificial agronomic intelligence platform offers a world-class solution that will significantly accelerate the understanding of agricultural science in Brazil,” McKenna said

CroBio Secures $1.55M in Seed Funding to Enhance Global Drought Resilience

CroBio raised $1.55 million in seed funding to develop microbial technologies that enhance soil’s water retention capabilities. The funding round was led by The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment and included participation from investment firms such as SOSV and Ponderosa Ventures. With the new funds, CroBio plans to conduct extensive field trials and expand its operations geographically. The investors strongly commit to supporting technologies contributing to planetary health and sustainable futures.

Ross Mulhall, PhD, Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of CroBio, emphasized the role of agricultural technology in mitigating climate change impacts and enhancing food security worldwide. “Agtech promises to be one of the leading movements in addressing the global impact of climate change and achieving worldwide food security,” said Mulhall.

PowerPollen Receives Investment From Liechtenstein Group

Liechtenstein Group invested €22.5 million in PowerPollen, a company that has developed an on-demand pollination technology, which can improve crop resilience and consistency in yield outputs. Traditional pollination methods have become less effective due to climate change, and PowerPollen's solution reduces the need for natural pollinators and male plant rows, saving land, water, and other resources. PowerPollen and RiceTec are collaborating to apply this technology to rice, and the commercialization of PowerPollen's technology in rice seed production is slated for 2027.

Todd Krone, Co-Founder and CEO of PowerPollen, emphasized the technology's transformative potential across various crops. Johannes Meran, CEO of the Liechtenstein Group, also highlighted the technology's critical role in sustainable agriculture and its potential to revolutionize global rice production.

Financial Results

AGCO Corporation Reports Decline in Q1 Sales but Optimistic About Precision Ag Integration

AGCO reported a 12.1% decline in net sales for Q1 2024 due to industry challenges. Sales in North America, South America, and Asia/Pacific/Africa decreased significantly, while Europe/Middle East showed resilience. AGCO completed the PTx Trimble joint venture to enhance its position in the market. AGCO aims to achieve a sales target of $13.5 billion and an adjusted operating margin of 11.3% in 2024, with a focus on precision agriculture and digital technologies.

Eric Hansotia, Chairman, President, and CEO of AGCO, emphasized the company’s strategic direction, stating, “By focusing on precision agriculture and streamlining our product offerings, AGCO is poised to meet the evolving needs of the global agriculture sector, despite current economic pressures.”

CNH Industrial Reports Decline in Q1 2024 Earnings Amid Market Challenges

CNH Industrial reported a decline in Q1 2024 financial performance. Net income dropped to $402 million from $486 million last year, while consolidated revenues fell by approximately 10% to $4.82 billion. The agriculture and construction sectors saw a downturn, leading to a reduction in net sales across all regions. CEO Scott W. Wine emphasized proactive management strategies to navigate the challenging times, with a focus on improving free cash flow and adjusting cost structures. The company's financial services segment continued to grow with increased net income and revenue.

Read more here.

Corteva Agriscience Reports Q1 2024 Financial Results

Corteva, Inc. reported a decrease in net sales to $4.49 billion, an 8% drop compared to the first quarter of 2023. The Seed business saw a net sales increase of 2%, while the Crop Protection segment faced tougher conditions, with net sales falling 20%. The company reaffirmed its full-year 2024 guidance, projecting net sales in the range of $17.4 billion to $17.7 billion and operating EBITDA between $3.5 billion and $3.7 billion.

Chuck Magro, Chief Executive Officer of Corteva, commented, “Corteva’s first quarter 2024 results were largely as expected. The Seed business again delivered exceptional performance driven by our advanced technology and product lineup. However, the Crop Protection sector faced expected headwinds, including residual inventory imbalances and shifts in farmer purchasing behavior. Looking forward, we anticipate growth in the second half of the year driven by our differentiated portfolio and cost actions.”

Read more here.

Earth Alive Clean Technologies Announces 2023 Financial Results

Earth Alive Clean Technologies Inc. reported a 48% increase in its agricultural sector revenue despite facing challenges in the Infrastructure & Maintenance sectors primarily in Latin America and the US. The company also laid the groundwork for the acquisition of Interlube in 2023, while expanding its European presence and launching innovative products. Earth Alive recorded annual revenue of $2,314,417 in 2023, with a net loss of $4,474,644. The company is optimistic about its growth prospects in 2024, with strategic investments expected to generate a substantial increase in sales.

Nikolaos Sofronis, CEO of Earth Alive, commented on the year’s activities: “2023 was a year marked by strong strategic investments that will strengthen Earth Alive’s worldwide growth potential. Our R&D initiatives and geographic expansion are bearing fruit, and we are optimistic about realizing our vision for 2024.”

Syngenta Reports Financial Results For Q1 2024

Syngenta Group reported a 20% decline in sales to $7.4 billion and a 34% decline in EBITDA to $1.2 billion in Q1 2024. Crop Protection sales fell 24%, with ADAMA sales down 16% and Seeds Division sales down 8%. The company is focusing on improving operational efficiencies and expanding its product portfolio, with recent strategic moves including acquiring Dafeng Seed and launching a new herbicide. Syngenta Group has also outlined new sustainability priorities, including enhancing crop productivity with reduced environmental impact, adopting regenerative agriculture practices, improving rural prosperity, and ensuring sustainable operations.

Partnerships

Louis Dreyfus Company Partners With Bayer & Global Clean Energy Holdings

Louis Dreyfus Company, Global Clean Energy Holdings, and Bayer are collaborating to promote camelina cultivation in Argentina as part of Bayer’s PRO Carbono Program, with the aim of enhancing agricultural efficiency and sustainability. Camelina is an ultra-low carbon feedstock for advanced biofuels, planted as a sustainable alternative between major summer crops like soy and corn.

LDC’s global sustainability strategy is rooted in reducing carbon emissions across its operations and supply chains, while Global Clean Energy has a long-standing history in camelina breeding and cultivation. Bayer’s PRO Carbono program supports sustainable agronomic practices to mitigate environmental impacts, and integrating camelina as a winter cash cover crop aligns with its goals for a more responsible agricultural model that restores soil health.

MagrowTec and Certis Belchim Forge Partnership for Enhanced Plant Protection Solutions

MagrowTec and Certis Belchim have partnered to improve plant protection products' efficiency and sustainability. MagrowTec's precision spraying technology reduces environmental impact and enhances crop protection applications' effectiveness. Certis Belchim brings its expertise in conventional and biological products to enhance their performance when used with MagrowTec's technology. The partnership aims to provide more efficient and sustainable plant protection solutions to farmers and benefit the environment.

Jacques Haverlant, Head of R&D at Certis Belchim, emphasized the commitment to sustainable practices, stating, “This collaboration shows our dedication to responsible practices. We seek not only to improve the efficiency of our products but also to enable the adoption of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs and good stewardship practice.”

CNH Industrial Announce Collaboration to Enhance Connectivity With Intelsat

Intelsat and CNH Industrial have partnered to provide global internet access via satellite communications to the agricultural sector. The service will initially be available to farmers in Brazil, and then extend to the US, Australia, and other markets, enhancing farming efficiency worldwide. Internet connectivity is crucial for maximizing productivity in modern agriculture, enabling real-time data exchange, precise control of farming operations, and effective management of intelligent agricultural machinery.

Marc Kermisch, Chief Digital and Information Officer at CNH, highlighted the significance of this collaboration: “Satellite technology helps solve complex connectivity challenges for hard-to-reach farms, and Intelsat’s proven track record ensures reliability and quality. We look forward to empowering global farmers with this advanced technology.” Dave Wajsgras, CEO of Intelsat, added, “Our partnership with CNH is a groundbreaking step towards bringing multi-orbit connectivity to the world’s most remote farming locations, enhancing operational efficiency and user experience through our robust communications platform.”

Corporate Announcements

S2G Ventures Becomes An Independent Investment Adviser

S2G and Builders Vision have announced that S2G has become a registered investment adviser and will now operate as an independent entity. They will continue collaborating to maximize their impact. S2G will maintain its leadership team, welcome new executives, and continue providing capital and strategic resources to businesses focused on food, agriculture, oceans, and energy.

Lukas Walton, co-founder of S2G and a key figure at Builders Vision, expressed pride in S2G's achievements and optimism for its future. “It has been an honor to support this team’s growth and to see them expand their impact over the past decade,” Walton stated. Their ongoing success is vital as we continue to address some of the biggest challenges of our time.”

Pivot Bio Welcomes Chris Turner as New CCO

Pivot Bio appointed Chris Turner as its new Chief Commercial Officer. Turner will be responsible for overseeing the commercial sales organization and spearheading the company's global growth agenda. He has nearly three decades of experience in the agriculture sector, having previously held leadership roles at Bayer Corporation and Monsanto Company. Turner has a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture from the University of Missouri and was raised on a farm in Northeast Missouri.

“Chris is a highly regarded, results-oriented leader in the ag industry, and we couldn’t be more excited that he is joining our team,” commented Chris Abbott, CEO of Pivot Bio.

Reports

World Economic Forum Report Highlights Transformation in Agriculture Through Agritech

The World Economic Forum (WEF) published a report titled “Agritech: Shaping Agriculture in Emerging Economies, Today and Tomorrow,” which highlights the potential of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies such as AI, IoT, and robotics to transform agricultural practices. Agritech adoption is uneven across different regions, with only 39% of farmers globally having adopted at least one technology service. The report emphasizes the importance of inclusivity in digital agriculture, particularly for women farmers, and stresses the need for effective collaboration between governments and private enterprises to realize agritech’s full potential.

Read the complete report here.

Global AgTech Sector Witnesses Subdued VC Activity Amidst Economic Challenges

AgTech investment in the first quarter of 2024 mirrored the broader venture capital environment’s downturn. Ongoing macroeconomic issues have affected AgTech funding. However, there were still some major deals in the sector, including Oishii’s substantial Series B round and Inari’s $103 million Series F. The AgTech sector is currently undergoing a valuation reset, which could potentially open up opportunities for new investments. The investment landscape in AgTech has gradually shifted towards more mature, late-stage ventures. The decline in VC-backed exit activity could signal a cautious approach from investors, but there is still ongoing interest in innovative AgTech solutions.

Read the complete report here.

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