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AgTech Wrap-Up: ADM, AGCO, Total Energies & More

Pioneering Sustainable Horizons: ADM, Syngenta, and Industry Collaborations Advancing Low Carbon-Intensity Oilseeds, Precision Ag, and Renewable Energy Ventures

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ADM & Syngenta: Pioneering Sustainable Oilseeds

ADM, a global leader in nutrition and agricultural processing, and Syngenta Group, a key player in agricultural technology, have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to accelerate the research and commercialization of low carbon-intensity oilseeds like Camelina. The collaboration aims to meet the growing demand for biofuels and sustainably sourced products. Syngenta will contribute its R&D expertise, seed treatments, and a network of field experts. At the same time, ADM will leverage its large-scale and logistical capabilities, including production, storage, and a vast network of partnerships.

Camelina, a resilient oilseed crop, is gaining traction in the biofuel industry due to its high oil content and favorable fatty acid composition, suitable for biodiesel and aviation biofuel production. Its ability to thrive on marginal lands with minimal water and fertilizer inputs makes it a sustainable choice, ensuring food crops aren't displaced. With ongoing commercial and research efforts aimed at enhancing its oil yield and quality, along with necessary policy and technological support, Camelina holds promise in advancing sustainable biofuel production, contributing to a reduced carbon footprint in the transportation sector.

Both companies are optimistic about finalizing definitive agreements by the end of the year and have already initiated critical tasks focused on cultivating and processing future-oriented varieties. The International Energy Association forecasts a 22% increase in biofuel demand, amounting to about 35 billion liters annually, between 2022 and 2027. The partnership is seen as a significant step towards sustainability in agriculture, with both companies emphasizing the importance of collaboration and large-scale implementation for transforming the sector.

AGCO and Trimble Forge a Formidable Precision Ag Partnership

AGCO Corporation, a global leader in agricultural machinery and Precision Ag technology, has announced a Joint Venture (JV) with technology company Trimble. The partnership involves AGCO acquiring an 85% stake in Trimble's agricultural assets for $2.0 billion, including the integration of JCA Technologies. The JV aims to become a global leader in mixed-fleet Precision Ag, focusing on technology across all phases of the crop cycle. The collaboration is expected to accelerate AGCO's growth in autonomy, precision spraying, connected farming, and sustainability.

Precision agriculture, leveraging technologies like GPS, IoT, and machine learning, is revolutionizing farming by enabling data-driven decisions, thus enhancing both productivity and sustainability. The market, which was valued at USD 9.47 billion in 2022, is poised for significant growth with a projected CAGR of 12.6% from 2023 to 2030, underlining the escalating adoption of smart farming practices globally. Overcoming challenges like high initial investment and data privacy concerns is crucial for tapping the full potential of precision agriculture in addressing global food security and environmental conservation challenges.

Financial projections for the JV are optimistic, with expectations to double its EBITDA by the fifth year after the deal closes. The transaction is anticipated to be finalized in the first half of 2024, pending regulatory approval and standard closing conditions. AGCO has secured the necessary funds for the acquisition through existing liquidity, free cash flows, and new debt sourced from Morgan Stanley Senior Funding, Inc.

TotalEnergies Acquires France’s Agrivoltaics Leader Ombrea

TotalEnergies has strategically acquired Ombrea, France's leading agrivoltaics company, to bolster its renewable energy ventures. Founded in 2016, Ombrea specializes in harmonizing agricultural production with green electricity generation. The acquisition aims to accelerate TotalEnergies' agrivoltaic projects in France and internationally, aligning with the French Renewable Energy Acceleration Law of March 2023. The law encourages sustainable energy solutions, and TotalEnergies plans to develop 1.5 GW of agrivoltaic projects under this framework. Over forty experts from Ombrea, including its founders, will collaborate with TotalEnergies' agrivoltaic specialists at Ombrea’s Aix-en-Provence site, which will serve as TotalEnergies' global hub for agrivoltaics.

Agrivoltaics, the synergy of agriculture and photovoltaics, optimizes land use by enabling simultaneous crop cultivation and solar energy generation. Recently, TotalEnergies bolstered its stake in this domain by acquiring Ombrea, a French agrivoltaics specialist, thus gaining expertise and expanding its agrivoltaic project portfolio. This acquisition, aligning with TotalEnergies' broader green energy ambitions, underscores the growing recognition of agrivoltaics in fostering sustainable land use and renewable energy production, marking a significant stride towards harmonizing agricultural and energy sectors for a sustainable future.

Vincent Stoquart, Senior Vice President of renewables at TotalEnergies, expressed his enthusiasm for the acquisition: "The aim is to augment the energy sector’s revenue, sustain agricultural operations, and mitigate the carbon footprint." The acquisition is part of TotalEnergies' broader green ambitions, which include achieving net zero by 2050 and expanding its renewable electricity generation capacity to 100 GW by 2030. With this acquisition, TotalEnergies aims to offer avant-garde solutions that integrate solar power with farming, including safeguarding against climatic adversities and enhancing crop yields.

Argo Living Soils Acquires Rights to AgriChar’s CHAR+ Biochar

Argo Living Soils Corp has finalized a transaction with Canadian AgriChar, acquiring an exclusive license to market and sell CHAR+ biochar products. Argo will sell these products on its website and earn a percentage from each sale as part of the agreement. The company has issued 500,000 common shares to Canadian AgriChar upon the agreement becoming effective, with an additional 500,000 shares set to be distributed within six months. The transaction is classified as a "related party transaction" due to the shared affiliation of Ken Bowman between both companies.

Biochar products, created through pyrolysis of organic materials, are gaining attention for their potential in soil amendment and carbon sequestration. They enhance soil fertility, water retention, and reduce nutrient leaching, benefiting agricultural productivity. Moreover, biochar's carbon-negative nature helps in combating climate change by locking carbon in soil. The market for biochar products is expanding with increasing awareness and supportive policies. In this evolving scenario, investments in biochar production and research are crucial to unlock its full potential in agriculture, waste management, and climate change mitigation, reflecting a growing emphasis on sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices.

Canadian AgriChar is the largest manufacturer and distributor of the trademarked CHAR+ BioChar in Canada, with over 14 years of experience. Argo Living Soils specializes in producing and developing organic products, including soil amendments and bio-fertilizers. "The Company’s vision and overall business plan is to create an established organic and environmentally friendly product brand," states the article, highlighting Argo's commitment to sustainable agriculture.

Above Food Corp Acquires AI-Based Genomic Assets from NRGene

Above Food Corp, an innovative food company, has entered an asset-purchase agreement with NRGene Technologies Ltd, an Ag-Tech firm. The acquisition includes AI-based genomic assets, intellectual property, and licensing rights to trait development technology. The deal aims to accelerate the development of elite crop varieties with valuable genetic traits, boosting crop productivity, improving nutritional values, and reducing the CO2 footprint of the food supply chain. Above Food will also receive a license to NRGene's proprietary TraitMAGIC™ technology, and an R&D team from NRGene Canada Inc. is expected to join Above Food's Discovery Trait Genetics team.

The global market for genome editing, which includes agricultural applications, was valued at USD 6.39 billion in 2022 and is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 17.8% from 2023 to 2030. This growth reflects the burgeoning interest and investment in utilizing gene editing technologies for agricultural advancements among other applications.

The transaction is contingent upon the completion of Above Food's business combination with BITE Acquisition Corp. NRGene will provide Above Food with canola trait and germplasm featuring durable clubroot resistance and high protein content, DNA markers for quality traits in additional Western Canadian-grown crops, and genomic lab facilities in Saskatoon, Canada. 

The Shift Project Launches Agriculture Initiative to Transform French Agricultural System

Le Shift Project, a French think tank, has announced a comprehensive Agriculture Project to transform the French agricultural system. The initiative addresses various challenges, such as climate change, energy price fluctuations, and labor issues, and aims to establish a constructive dialogue among stakeholders. The project is part of a broader "Biomass" program and will later extend to include a more comprehensive "Food" reflection. It will conduct a detailed quantitative evaluation of the sector's current and future physical constraints and their economic, social, and political implications.

France is transitioning towards sustainable agriculture through practices like organic farming, agroecology, and reducing chemical inputs. However, issues like high costs, policy challenges, and the need for new technologies and training for farmers are hurdles. The transition also demands a balance between productivity, environmental protection, and social acceptance, making it a complex endeavor.

The project has an 18-month timeline, starting in July 2023, with interim and final reports to be published in June and November 2024, respectively. "The project aims to establish a constructive dialogue among stakeholders to define the conditions necessary for effective transformation," the article highlights the initiative's focus on stakeholder engagement. Le Shift Project plans to collaborate with various stakeholders, including research institutions, professional organizations, educational institutions, and civil society, to ensure that key players have a say in the project's findings, proposals, and deliverables.

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