🔬 AgTech Innovation

iyris’ $16M Boost, FMC's New Products, Bayer's Genome Editing, FAO's Nuclear Push, and More!

Good morning readers! This week, we cover important developments such as the iyris $16M funding round, FMC Corporation product registration in Brazil, Bayer’s updates in its genome editing program, the FAO’s push for nuclear technology in food production, and more!

We also present in this week’s Discover The Company, Agtonomy, a company founded by Tim Bucher.

Let’s dive into this week’s AgTech Digest!

Abu Dhabi-Based iyris Banks $16M In A Funding Round Led By Ecosystem Integrity Fund

Image provided by iyris

Who Is iyris?

iyris (formerly RedSea) helps growers worldwide increase crop yields, reduce input costs and risks, and extend growing seasons in challenging environments.

The technologies developed by iyris, such as SecondSky, were created by scientists and professors at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia. SecondSky minimizes the impact of near-infrared heat radiation on plants while allowing the light needed for photosynthesis, resulting in more resilient and productive crops. iyris sells SecondSky products to customers in several countries and has also developed plant genetics to breed resilience to salinity, heat, and drought.

Who Led The Funding Round?

The Ecosystem Integrity Fund (EIF), a San Francisco-based climate and sustainability fund, led the funding round. Current and new institutional investors, including Global Ventures, Dubai Future District Fund (DFDF), Kanoo Ventures, Globivest, and Bonaventure Capital, participated.

What Is The Purpose Of This Funding?

The proceeds will enhance iyris’ international sales pipeline for SecondSky greenhouse covers and nets, and fund the continued development of its heat-blocking products and resilient plant genetics.

“We are building a great company, making it easier for farmers to grow fresh produce in increasingly difficult climates. There are few problems more challenging than feeding the world sustainably. iyris is assembling the toolkit to help farmers improve crop yields with fewer resources. In a very short time, we have brought our products to market and proven that they work. But we have a lot left to do, and the completion of our Series A fundraising enables us to take the next steps in expanding sales of our drop-in solutions for heat blocking and crop resilience to our grower customers worldwide.”

John Keppler, Executive Chairperson of iyris

Agtonomy - Revolutionizing Agriculture Through Technology and Collaboration

Image provided by Agtonomy

The Genesis of Agtonomy

Tim Bucher, CEO of Agtonomy, describes the company’s inception as stemming from his personal experiences: "Agtonomy is the culmination of my parallel lives as a farmer and technologist." Born to farmers and later a technologist in Silicon Valley, Bucher’s unique background led him to leverage technology to solve urgent farming issues. Facing financial strains on his farm, he developed the first automated robot for in-field tasks, laying the groundwork for Agtonomy. Bucher notes, "My farm needed help, so I turned to the trillions of dollars invested into developing autonomous driving technology to address repetitive field tasks."

Strategic Market Focus and Expansion Plans

Agtonomy has initially targeted high-value permanent crops such as fruit and nut trees and vineyards, capitalizing on the high labor costs and complexity of maintaining permanent crops. The company’s early successes in pre-commercial, paid pilot programs set the stage for future expansion into row crops and other sectors. "The pilot program in 2023 was so successful that we expanded it by an order of magnitude for this year," Bucher stated, highlighting the scalability of their technology.

Balancing Technology with Practical Utility

Agtonomy’s approach focuses on embedding new machines with their advanced software, facilitating easier adoption among farmers familiar with these brands. Bucher explains, "As a farmer I asked myself, ‘Would I buy an autonomous tractor and implements from a startup I had never heard of?’ The answer was a resounding ‘no’," emphasizing the importance of reliability and farmer trust in their business model.

Prioritizing Data Security in Agriculture

Agtonomy prioritizes data security and farmer privacy, asserting that farmers should retain data ownership. "Farmers ultimately don’t want data. They want actions that stem from data analytics," Bucher clarifies, focusing on data application to enhance farm productivity. He further notes the national importance of agricultural data security, reinforcing Agtonomy’s commitment to robust privacy practices.

Vision for 2030: Democratizing Agricultural Automation

Bucher envisions Agtonomy as a global leader in agricultural automation by 2030, democratizing access to these technologies for all farmers. He cites ongoing collaborations with top-tier manufacturers and introducing more collaborative products, like the recently released autonomous electric tractor developed with Doosan Bobcat, as milestones toward this goal. "We can’t survive without agriculture, but between climate change, costs, and labor expenses, the clock is ticking," Bucher contends, emphasizing the urgency of their mission.

Advancing through Collaboration

A key aspect of Agtonomy's strategy is its collaborative approach, which involves working closely with farmers and industry partners to refine and validate its technologies. "We must include growers in the driver’s seat of innovation by not just talking to them, but partnering with them on their farms and showing them real solutions in action," Bucher explains. This hands-on approach allows Agtonomy to gather essential feedback directly from the end-users, ensuring that the technological solutions developed are effective and tailored to the specific needs of the agricultural community.

Technology's Role in Sustainable Farming

As sustainability becomes increasingly important in agriculture, Agtonomy's solutions also focus on minimizing environmental impact. Their technologies aim to reduce the need for chemical inputs, optimize water use, and increase the overall efficiency of farm operations. This helps farmers reduce their carbon footprint and supports the broader goal of sustainable agriculture practices. Bucher highlights, "Our technology not only aims to improve productivity and profitability for farmers but also enhances the sustainability of their farming practices."

Overcoming Challenges with Innovative Solutions

Despite promising advancements, integrating high technology into traditional farming has its challenges. These include high initial costs, the complexity of technology adoption, and the need for ongoing training and support. Agtonomy addresses these challenges by ensuring that its technology is user-friendly and by providing comprehensive support and training to its clients. "By simplifying the technology and offering strong support systems, we make it easier for farmers to adopt and benefit from our solutions," Bucher asserts.

Through its innovative use of technology, strategic collaborations, and focus on sustainability, Agtonomy is not just solving immediate problems but is also setting the stage for the future of farming. With a clear vision for 2030 and a commitment to supporting farmers globally, Agtonomy is poised to lead a new era of agricultural efficiency and sustainability, ensuring that farmers can thrive in the face of evolving agricultural challenges.

FMC Corporation Gains Registration in Brazil, Bayer Updates on Its Genome Editing Program & The FAO Pushes For Nuclear Technologies

Certification: FMC Corporation Gains Registration for Azugro® and Ezanya® Herbicides in Brazil

FMC Corporation (NYSE: FMC) announced the registration of its Azugro® and Ezanya® herbicides in Brazil.

What Is It?

Azugro® and Ezanya® herbicides are powered by Isoflex® active, FMC’s branded name for bixlozone. Isoflex® active is a novel herbicide, particularly in cereal applications, and the Herbicide Resistance Action Committee (HRAC) classified it as a Group 13 herbicide. These formulations are designed to offer effective weed control, thereby enhancing crop productivity and resilience.

Azugro® and Ezanya® herbicides are designed to control key annual grass weeds, such as goosegrass (Eleusine indica) and Italian ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum), as well as certain broadleaf weeds. Azugro® will be available for use in cotton during the 2024 crop season and wheat in 2025, while Ezanya® will be available for use in tobacco during the 2024 crop season.

Bayer Crop Science Advances Genome Editing in Vegetables with New Initiatives

Bayer has announced two new initiatives in partnership with external organizations to enhance genome editing in vegetables.

Collaboration with G+FLAS on Vitamin D3-Enhanced Tomatoes

Bayer has partnered with South Korean biotech company G+FLAS to develop vitamin D-enhanced tomato varieties to address global vitamin D deficiency. The collaboration utilizes G+FLAS’ genome editing technology and Bayer’s tomato germplasm to enhance the nutritional profile of tomatoes more efficiently. This initiative also includes plans to develop seeds for a broader variety of tomato products.

Licensing Agreement with Pairwise for Genome-Edited Leafy Greens

Bayer has secured a licensing agreement with US-based food and agtech startup Pairwise to commercialize Pairwise’s genome-edited mustard greens. These greens offer a fresh flavor and higher nutrition compared to traditional lettuce. These greens are the first gene-edited food introduced to the North American market. The deal includes rights to commercialize existing varieties developed by Pairwise and to develop new ones.

Launch of Open Innovation Platform for Genome Editing

The company has also launched an open innovation platform focused on genome editing in fruits and vegetables, seeking partnerships with academic researchers and companies to develop new products with increased nutritional content, positive environmental impact, or enhanced consumer appeal.

Nuclear Technologies Vital for Food Safety, Says FAO Director-General

QU Dongyu, the FAO's Director-General, highlighted the importance of controlling food safety from its inception, involving soil, water, agricultural, and post-harvest practices. He emphasized the significant role nuclear technologies can play in setting science-based food standards, describing them as complementary to the One Health approach.

“Nuclear technologies are very important tools for measuring, managing, and controlling food safety and are complementary to the One Health approach,” Qu remarked. He highlighted that food safety and supply are fundamental for transforming agrifood systems.

Latest Partnerships, Certifications, and Investment Developments In AgTech

🇺🇦 I.P.Cert and Regrow Ag have announced a new partnership to accelerate the adoption of regenerative agriculture practices across Ukraine. This collaboration aims to establish a comprehensive sustainable farming program that rewards farmers for climate-smart practices and generates scope 3 insets.

💡 Philips Horticulture LED Solutions and Hoogendoorn Growth Management partner to unlock the full potential of dynamic lighting for vertical farming.

🚜 CNH Industrial N.V. (NYSE) announced that Derek Neilson has requested to leave the company later this year to pursue a new entrepreneurial project outside the sector.

🌍 KUBO launched a CO2-negative greenhouse enabling the production of fresh vegetables with reduced fossil energy consumption and lower costs per kilo compared to traditional greenhouses. This development is expected to attract significant interest from horticulturists, investors, and governments globally, underscoring the sector’s commitment to food security and CO2 reduction.

🔬 Valent BioSciences celebrated the grand opening of the new Venburg Wing at the company’s Melnik and Shafer Biorational Research Center in Libertyville, Illinois.

🌱 Farmers Edge™ and the National Sorghum Producers (NSP) have announced a new strategic partnership aimed at advancing sustainable farming practices among sorghum growers. Together, Farmers Edge and NSP will integrate advanced technology solutions to capture essential on-farm data, including Carbon Intensity (CI) scoring, contributing to broader environmental goals.

🇦🇺 BASF has announced the launch of its new insecticide, Cimegra®, in Australia. This product is powered by a new active ingredient, Broflanilide®, formulated using BASF technology. Following successful registrations and launches in China in 2021 and Indonesia in 2023, BASF aims to support Australian farmers by providing a tool for effective and long-duration pest control across a variety of crops.

🇦🇪 du, an Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC), announced a partnership with Gracia Group to launch a new agritech platform, a comprehensive digital ecosystem designed to transform the agricultural sector in the UAE.

🌹 Interstellar Lab has announced a groundbreaking collaboration with the Antoine de Saint Exupéry Youth Foundation. Together, they embark on Mission Little Prince, an unprecedented endeavor to grow roses on the Moon.

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