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  • AgTech Digest: Greeneye Technology and NPHarvest Bag Funding, Innovafeed Opens Illinois Facility & More!

AgTech Digest: Greeneye Technology and NPHarvest Bag Funding, Innovafeed Opens Illinois Facility & More!

Discover the latest developments in the world of AgTech!

Hello readers! Exciting news from the agricultural technology sector. Innovafeed has opened a new facility in Illinois to meet the growing demand for alternative protein sources. Horizon, a Spanish agri-tech company, has launched new products to improve crop yields.

ADAMA has launched a new fungicide called Maganic® that provides long-lasting protection against plant diseases. Greeneye Technology, NPHarvest, and VitalFluid have raised funding for their agri-tech solutions.

Let’s dive into this week’s developments!

New Facility & Products

Innovafeed Inaugurates the North American Insect Innovation Center in Illinois

Innovafeed opened its North American Insect Innovation Center (NAIIC) in Decatur, Illinois, marking the beginning of the company’s plans to scale up production and enhance the commercialization of insect proteins in the United States. The facility utilizes black soldier flies to convert agricultural by-products into high-value insect meal, oils, and soil amendments, aiming to achieve a zero-waste production cycle. The location was chosen for its strategic importance in the agricultural sector and the facility supports up to 60,000 metric tons of animal feed protein production annually, among other benefits. The facility aims to replicate an industrial symbiosis model Innovafeed pioneered in France, which is still under comprehensive life cycle analysis.

Horizon Launches State-of-the-Art Bioagriculture Facility in Spain

Horizon has opened a new facility in Baeza, Spain, expanding its capacity to produce organic agricultural products. With over 30 years of experience, Horizon specializes in creating sustainable and effective solutions tailored to meet the evolving needs of modern agriculture. The new facility is outfitted with state-of-the-art technology and supported by funding from the European Union. The launch of this facility also coincides with the global trend towards sustainability in agriculture practices.

José Escaich, CEO and co-founder of Horizon, commented on the new facility’s role, “This plant represents a strategic expansion of our capabilities to support sustainable agriculture globally. We are committed to providing growers with bespoke solutions that promote the health and performance of their crops, tailored specifically to their agricultural environments.”

ADAMA Launches Maganic®, a New T3 Fungicide

ADAMA Ltd. has introduced Maganic®, a T3 fungicide for European cereal growers. It protects wheat crops against ear diseases, increases yields, and mitigates the risk of mycotoxin contamination. Maganic® is suitable for barley, oilseed rape, and sugar beet. It was launched in Europe in 2023 and will continue to roll out across various European countries throughout 2024.

“Maganic® represents a breakthrough in T3 fungicide application, providing farmers with a powerful tool to meet the stringent EU standards for grain health,” explained Alex Mills, Global Head of Fungicides at ADAMA. “Our field trials have consistently shown that crops treated with Maganic® exhibit lower levels of mycotoxins, specifically Deoxynivalenol, compared to untreated fields, alongside noticeable increases in yield.”

Cropin Technology Introduces ‘akṣara’

Cropin Technology has launched 'akṣara', an open-source Micro Language Model dedicated to climate-smart agriculture. Developed on the Mistral model, 'akṣara' aims to empower farming communities by providing contextual, factual, and actionable information, particularly in the Global South. It initially covers significant crops for food security, such as paddy, wheat, maize, sorghum, barley, cotton, sugarcane, soybean, and millet. 'Akṣara' utilizes QLoRA for model compression, reducing its size from 16-bit to 4-bit and making it more accessible for a broad audience. Cropin plans to update the model with more crops, languages, and regional data to enhance its effectiveness.

“Akṣara is designed to address the unique challenges faced by the underserved farming communities by removing knowledge barriers and empowering stakeholders to develop scalable AI solutions,” stated Krishna Kumar, Founder & CEO of Cropin.

UK Unveils Largest Agri-Tech Centre to Propel Sector Innovation

The UK Agri-Tech Centre has been inaugurated, combining three former agri-tech entities to establish a unified platform for innovation. The new organization aims to broaden access to cutting-edge agri-tech, drive developmental initiatives, and facilitate business growth throughout the sector. The center will utilize world-class facilities to support research and development and help agri-tech businesses to scale up. With its increased capacity to implement innovation, the center aims to tackle the critical issues facing our food systems, particularly those exacerbated by climate change.

Phil Bicknell, appointed as the CEO of the Centre, commented on the new organization’s goals: “Our mission is to broaden access to cutting-edge agri-tech, drive developmental initiatives, and facilitate business growth throughout the sector.”

Funding & Investments

VitalFluid Secures €5M in Funding to Advance Sustainable AgTech

VitalFluid, a company specializing in Plasma Activated Water (PAW), has announced a €5M seed funding round backed by Future Food Fund, Graduate Entrepreneur Fund, Horticoop, and Innovation Industries. PAW is a natural alternative to chemical pesticides and fertilizers used in agriculture. The funding will help VitalFluid expand its greenhouse PAW programs, refine its plasma systems, and boost commercial activities. The technology offers several benefits such as sustainability, effectiveness, and scalability.

Erik Hertel, CEO of VitalFluid, remarked on the funding, “We are proud to team up with these strong investors who recognize the potential of plasma technology in agriculture.”

NPHarvest Raises €2.2M to Advance Nutrient Recycling Technology

NPHarvest, a spin-off from Aalto University, has successfully raised €2.2 million to bring its nutrient recycling technology to market. The project will involve creating the first commercially ready Nutrient Catcher machines, aimed at facilities handling large volumes of wastewater. The Nutrient Catcher can capture up to 90% of valuable nutrients from wastewater streams, producing ammonia salt, which is valuable in the fertilizer industry. By recycling these nutrients, NPHarvest prevents pollution and reduces reliance on fossil-based fertilizers. The technology has significant market potential, with the European water management market alone valued at approximately €170 billion.

Juho Uzkurt Kaljunen, CEO and founder of NPHarvest, explained the significance of this advancement: “Our process is not only more energy and cost-efficient but also simpler to operate than current solutions. We are excited to bring this sustainable technology to the market, which will provide affordable recycled nutrients and fertilizers.”

Greeneye Technology Secures $20M in Funding

Greeneye Technology has raised $20 million in a funding round led by Deep Insight. The investment will help scale the company's operations in the US, enhance its technological capabilities, and broaden its application to various inputs and crops. Greeneye's AI-enabled precision spraying system cuts down herbicide usage by 88%, reduces the chemical load in the environment, and minimizes the risk of herbicide resistance. The technology is designed to be compatible with any brand or model of the commercial sprayer, facilitating a smoother transition for farmers to precision spraying technologies. The company aims to deploy dozens of systems across the US in the upcoming year, focusing on a combined area of 200 million acres of corn, soybean, and cotton.

Nadav Bocher, CEO of Greeneye Technology, highlighted the strategic impact of the funding: “Securing this round of capital in today’s challenging economic climate is further validation of Greeneye’s mission to drive mainstream adoption of precision spraying technology in the U.S. and globally.”

PINC Invests in OlsAro to Boost Development of Climate-Resilient Wheat Varieties

PINC, the venture arm of Paulig, has invested in Swedish agtech startup OlsAro, which is pioneering the development of wheat varieties that can withstand climate-related stresses. OlsAro's salt-tolerant wheat variety has demonstrated a remarkable 52% yield increase during initial tests in Bangladesh. This breakthrough has significant potential to transform unproductive saline lands into productive agricultural plots, particularly in regions like Asia, the Middle East, South America, and Africa. With the new funding, OlsAro plans to expand its operations into other markets with similar salinity challenges, including Australia and India.

Elén Faxö, CEO of OlsAro, remarked on the impact of the investment: “With our technology backed by ten years of research, we’re now in a unique position to leverage advancements in AI and plant biotechnology to make a real impact on global food security. This funding will allow us to scale up our technological and commercial efforts.”

Partnerships

GRDC Launches the Oat Grain Quality Consortium (OGQC)

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) has launched the Oat Grain Quality Consortium (OGQC) in Perth to advance oat quality research. This collaborative effort aims to capitalize on the growing demand for oat-based products, with over $12.5 million invested in the next five years. The consortium brings together stakeholders from InterGrain, the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), Curtin University, Murdoch University, Edith Cowan University, Agriculture Victoria, Shaanxi Normal University, and industry giants such as Oatly, Sanitarium, and Quaker to focus on three strategic research programs. The OGQC's work will promote Australian oats, benefitting the entire supply chain, from breeders to processors, and ultimately, consumers worldwide.

AgriZeroNZ Partners with BioLumic to Develop Low-Emissions Pasture Solutions

AgriZeroNZ has invested up to $5 million in BioLumic to develop a low-emissions ryegrass using UV light treatment technology. The ryegrass aims to enhance the lipid content in plants, which has been associated with reduced methane emissions from animals that consume it. The development of this low-emissions ryegrass is expected to help New Zealand farmers meet local and international environmental standards and protect vital trade agreements. BioLumic plans for the ryegrass treatment to reach broad-scale usage by 2027.

Orange Launches “DigiGreen & Agri” Project in Collaboration with the European Union and GIZ

Orange has partnered with the European Union and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) to launch the “DigiGreen & Agri” project, aimed at supporting digital innovation for a more sustainable and inclusive economy. With a joint funding of €7.6 million, the project aims to create employment opportunities, support startups and small businesses, and promote investments in sustainable practices and technologies. The project will also focus on skill development, entrepreneurship, and the development of digital solutions for sustainable agriculture. The Orange Digital Centers will play a pivotal role in this initiative, offering free, open innovation ecosystems to empower youth and vulnerable populations.

Francesca Di Mauro, Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, expressed enthusiasm about the project’s launch: “This project places youth employability at the heart of its objectives, proposing the development of new digital solutions for sustainable agriculture and the green economy and the creation of quality jobs. It is also the result of an excellent collaboration between the private and public sectors in Team Europe format.”

Intelinair Partners With GROWMARK To Launch New Digital Agronomy Application

GROWMARK Inc. has partnered with Intelinair to introduce myFS Agronomy, a new digital agronomy app that integrates various data points to provide a holistic view of agronomic conditions and equip farmers with advanced data-driven insights. The app offers real-time monitoring and analysis, postseason and in-season analytics, and technology integration. The platform is accessible across multiple devices, ensuring farmers have constant access to critical data and insights.

Tim Hassinger, President and CEO of Intelinair, added, “With in-season agronomic insights and the new Analyze capability, farmers can get help monitoring their entire fields for issues during the season and then evaluate what changes can be made for the following crop season.”

Varda Partners With TrueFootprint

Agtech data service provider Varda has partnered with TrueFootprint to help farmers comply with the EU Deforestation Regulation. Varda’s Global FieldID solution will be integrated with TrueFootprint’s FieldApp platform to facilitate the digital mapping of farmland, allowing farmers to easily track and verify crop production locations with respect to forest conservation efforts. The collaboration is set to provide smallholder farmers with the necessary digital tools to map their farmland effectively and ensure compliance with the upcoming regulations.

Davide Ceper, CEO of Varda, commented on the challenges faced by smallholder farmers: “Large producers are well prepared and organized to supply the necessary information to validate their practices. However, smallholder farmers in some countries lack the technological ‘know-how’ to do the same. This could lead to some farmers being forced out of business, which would further impact deforestation levels in these areas as they lack alternatives.”

Annual Report Highlights Ransomware Vulnerability in Food and Agriculture Sector

The Food and Agriculture – Information Sharing and Analysis Center (Food and Ag-ISAC) has released its first annual report on ransomware incidents in the sector. The report finds that the food and agriculture sector was the 7th most targeted industry in 2023 with 167 incidents, representing 5.5% of the total analyzed ransomware attacks. The report identifies several ransomware groups that have been particularly active against the food and agriculture sector. The Food and Ag-ISAC has implemented numerous measures to combat the ransomware threat and data from the first quarter of 2024 shows a reduction in ransomware incidents.

Read the complete report here.

CSIRO Report Urges Immediate Innovation for Sustainable Australian Agriculture by 2050

Australia's national science agency, CSIRO, has released the "Ag2050 Scenarios Report" which stresses the urgent need for agricultural innovation to address challenges faced by the sector. These challenges include climate change, emission reductions, supply chain instability, labor shortages, shifting consumer trends, maintaining market access, and slow innovation. The report proposes four scenarios for the sector's future: Regional Ag Capitals, Landscape Stewardship, Climate Survival, and System Decline. The report highlights the importance of strategic planning and stakeholder engagement.

“The decline in farm profitability over the last two decades is a stark warning sign,” Dr. Wynn explained. “This report should serve as a call to action for the sector to adopt proactive measures. Our scenarios offer a roadmap towards a future where Australian agriculture is both sustainable and resilient.” - Dr. Katherine Wynn, CSIRO Futures’ Agriculture and Food Lead

For further details and to access the report, please visit CSIRO’s Ag2050 Scenarios Report.

This Week’s Events

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