🌾 Partnerships & Innovations In AgTech 🚀

An overview of recent collaborations and technological advancements in the agricultural sector.

Welcome To This Week’s AgTech Digest, May 18th

green and white snake on brown soil

This edition presents the most recent advancements and strategic moves in the agricultural sector. From exciting new partnerships and innovative product launches to significant funding rounds and insightful research grants, we cover the key developments shaping the future of agriculture.

Dive into our detailed updates on sustainable practices, cutting-edge technology, and financial results that highlight the resilience and growth of agtech companies worldwide.

🤝 Partnerships

Sustainable Green Team Signs LOI with Revive Terra

Sustainable Green Team, Ltd. has signed a Letter-of-Intent (LOI) with Revive Terra Corporation, a Canadian company known for its innovative soil restoration and carbon sequestration methods. This potential merger aims to combine the strengths of both companies to advance sustainable practices globally. Chad Clovis, Director of Revive Terra, expressed his excitement:

"We are thrilled to announce the culmination of a significant milestone in the sustainability sector—the potential merger of Sustainable Green Team and Revive Terra. This union represents a bold step forward in our commitment to environmental stewardship and innovative solutions."

LettUs Grow Partners with Valoya India

UK-based LettUs Grow, specializing in aeroponic technology, has partnered with Valoya India to expand its reach into India and the Middle East. This collaboration is a significant step in LettUs Grow’s global strategy to promote its aeroponic systems, validated through successful trials at Wageningen University and Stockbridge Technology Centre. Valoya India will integrate LettUs Grow’s patented ultrasonic aeroponic irrigation systems into its offerings, providing turnkey solutions for vertical farms. These systems are recognized for their efficiency, potentially increasing yields, improving crop quality, and reducing water use.

Bom Group and Beijing HortiPolaris Launch Greenhouse Project

Bom Group and Beijing HortiPolaris have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to start a high-tech greenhouse project in Yunnan, China. This initiative, part of a two-year collaboration, will involve constructing a 10-hectare facility dedicated to high-quality cherry tomato cultivation. The project leverages Bom Group’s greenhouse design and construction expertise and Beijing HortiPolaris’s knowledge in cherry tomato production and operational management. Key figures from both companies, including Ms. Fang Wang, Mr. Yuchon Chen, and Ms. Kangni Liu from HortiPolaris, and Rick van den Ende and Rob De Wit from Bom Group, were present for the MOU signing, highlighting the strategic partnership’s potential for future projects.

FMC Corporation Partners with Optibrium

FMC Corporation has partnered with Optibrium, a developer of AI solutions for small molecule discovery, as part of its strategy to accelerate the discovery and commercialization of new crop protection solutions. Dr. Seva Rostovtsev, FMC’s executive vice president and chief technology officer, emphasized the importance of this collaboration:

"Our collaboration with Optibrium marks a pivotal moment in crop protection research. By integrating AI into our R&D efforts, we aim to revolutionize how we develop sustainable solutions for farmers and ultimately enhance global food security."

GRAINCO FS Introduces myFS Agronomy with Intelinair

For the upcoming 2024 crop season, GRAINCO FS has launched myFS Agronomy, a digital agronomic tool developed in collaboration with Intelinair. This platform provides comprehensive in-season and post-season insights and analytics to farmers in Kendall, LaSalle, and Grundy counties in Illinois. Alan Drake, General Manager of GRAINCO FS, highlighted their commitment:

"We embarked on our ag tech journey nearly six years ago, driven by a commitment to leveraging technology to generate the best return on investment for our customers. Our strategy remains focused on an ever-evolving omni-channel where our growers can connect anytime and anywhere with all aspects of doing business with GRAINCO FS."

Aimpoint Research and CamoAg Team Up

Aimpoint Research® has partnered with CamoAg to develop a pioneering tool for the agriculture industry. This strategic partnership will digitize Aimpoint’s Farmer of the Future psychographic and behavioral segmentation, making it available as an add-on module through CamoAg’s advanced digital intelligence platform. Aimpoint Research, a division of Directions Inc., is known for its strategic intelligence in the agri-food sector, specializing in agriculture marketing research, strategic planning, segmentation, and integrated intelligence. Their innovative use of military intelligence strategies to analyze markets and sales tactics provides unparalleled insights into agricultural markets.

💸 Funding Rounds & Grants

AgriWebb Secures $7.2 Million in Latest Funding Round

AgriWebb has successfully raised an additional $7.2 million in funding. This round saw participation from new investor Munters Group, a Swedish climate solutions firm, along with continued support from existing backers such as Germin8 Ventures, Grosvenor Food & AgTech, and Telus Ventures. This investment marks another significant milestone in AgriWebb’s growth journey, adding to the substantial amounts raised in previous funding rounds.

Oligofeed Closes 600K€ Pre-Seed Funding Round

French deep tech startup Oligofeed has announced the successful closure of a 600K€ pre-seed funding round aimed at accelerating the development and market introduction of innovative bee feeds. Led by The Yield Lab Europe, this funding round marks a pivotal step in Oligofeed’s mission to enhance pollinator preservation, crucial for global food supply stability. The participation of experienced investors such as CCI Capital Croissance and Établissements Peugeot Frères further strengthens Oligofeed’s capacity to bring their scientific advancements to market.

Lumo Raises $7 Million for Connected Irrigation Solutions

Lumo, specializing in connected irrigation solutions, has secured $7 million in a funding round led by Active Impact Investments and Fall Line Capital. This capital will enable Lumo to continue developing its patented smart-valve technology and expand its market reach, providing essential support to farmers in optimizing their irrigation practices. The funding will be directed towards product research and development, as well as rapid market expansion, helping farmers automate irrigation, monitor flow rates remotely, and gain better visibility into system performance. Lumo’s technology is already in use by renowned growers in Napa, Sonoma, and the Central Coast, demonstrating its effectiveness and reliability.

Hexafarms Closes €1.3 Million Pre-Seed Funding Round

Hexafarms has announced the closing of a €1.3 million pre-seed funding round led by European early-stage investor Speedinvest, with additional participation from Mudcake and Techstars. This investment brings Hexafarms’ total capital raised to over €2.5 million. The funds will be used to further develop Hexafarms’ AI and machine learning capabilities and expand its team of research and development experts. With this investment, Hexafarms plans to increase the accuracy of its AI predictions and expand its crop portfolio. Currently, Hexafarms boasts the widest portfolio of supported crops and cultivars in Europe and is processing an estimated 9 million kilos of strawberries and tomatoes this quarter.

Penn State Research Team Awarded NSF Grant

A research team from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences has been awarded a $974,891 grant by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) for a project exploring the molecular and physiological processes vital to corn kernel development. Led by Surinder Chopra, professor of maize genetics, the project will investigate the DNA packaging processes in the cell nucleus necessary for developing the endosperm, a critical component of the corn kernel that stores essential nutrients. Chopra explained:

"The endosperm of the corn kernel is composed of several functionally unique cell layers that support kernel development. This project investigates the metabolic processes of development in one such layer, the basal endosperm transfer layer."

💰 Financial Results

Deere & Company Reports Q2 Earnings Decline

Deere & Company has reported a net income of $2.37 billion for Q2 ending April 28, 2024, translating to $8.53 per share. This is down from $2.86 billion, or $9.65 per share, in Q2 2023. For the first half of 2024, net income was $4.121 billion, or $14.74 per share, compared to $4.819 billion, or $16.18 per share, in the previous year's first half.

John C. May, chairman and CEO, remarked:

"John Deere’s second-quarter results were noteworthy in light of continued changes across the global agricultural sector. Thanks to our team's dedication and hard work, we continue to demonstrate structurally higher performance levels across business cycles. We benefit from stability in construction end markets amid declining agricultural and turf demand."

Yield10 Bioscience Focuses on Camelina Commercialization

Yield10 Bioscience, Inc. announced its Q1 2024 financial results, emphasizing a strategic shift towards commercializing Camelina products for the aquafeed and nutritional markets. CEO Oliver Peoples, Ph.D., noted:

"In the first quarter of 2024, we made the strategic decision to focus our resources on the commercialization of Camelina products targeting the aquafeed and nutritional markets for omega-3 fatty acids. We are building seed inventory in anticipation of commercial scale planting, planning to obtain regulatory approval to sell omega-3 oil for aquafeed in Chile, and engaging with potential commercial partners to enable future commercial sale of omega-3 oil and meal in target markets."

Edible Garden AG Reports Q1 Revenue Surge

Edible Garden AG Incorporated reported a revenue increase of 27.6% for Q1 2024, reaching $3.1 million compared to $2.5 million in the same period last year. This growth is attributed to increased customer demand and product lineup expansion. CEO Jim Kras expressed his enthusiasm:

"We are excited to announce a significant 27.6% year-over-year increase in revenue for the first quarter of 2024, which is typically the slowest quarter in our industry. This considerable growth showcases the dedication of the entire Edible Garden team and our ability to perform at a high level."

Origin Agritech Shows Strong Growth in H1 FY2024

Origin Agritech Ltd. reported net revenues of RMB 92 million (US$13 million) for the six months ending March 31, 2024, a 39.1% increase from RMB 66.1 million in H1 FY2023. Operating expenses dropped by 10%, leading to an operating income of RMB 4.3 million (US$0.6 million), up from an operating loss of RMB 0.2 million last year. The company achieved a net profit of RMB 1.4 million (US$0.2 million), compared to a net loss of RMB 1.1 million in the prior year. CEO Liang Yuan commented:

"Our focus on operational efficiency and innovative crop solutions continues to drive our growth and profitability."

Verde AgriTech Faces Decline in Q1 Sales

Verde AgriTech Ltd. reported Q1 2024 sales of 85,000 tonnes, down from 108,000 tonnes in Q1 2023. Revenue fell to $5.1 million from $11.1 million due to adverse climate conditions in Brazil. Despite this, the figures still mark a significant increase from Q1 2021. CEO Cristiano Veloso noted:

"The adverse climate conditions impacted fertilizer demand. However, our long-term growth trajectory remains positive."

Bayer Group Q1 Sales Slightly Decline

Bayer Group reported Q1 2024 sales of 13.765 billion euros, a slight 0.6% decline from the previous year. The Crop Science Division outperformed peers despite market challenges. CEO Bill Anderson highlighted:

"Our Crop Science Division continues to perform well, demonstrating resilience in a challenging market. We are committed to delivering value and innovation across our business segments."

Bioceres Crop Solutions Sees Revenue Drop in Q3

Bioceres Crop Solutions Corp. reported Q3 2024 revenues of $84.0 million, down from $93.6 million the previous year due to a lower compensatory payment accrual from Syngenta. Excluding these accruals, revenues grew to $68.3 million from $60.7 million. The company saw significant regulatory progress in Brazil, with new bio-insecticidal and bio-nematicidal solutions approved. CEO Federico Trucco stated:

"Our core business segments are growing, and the regulatory advancements in Brazil mark a significant milestone for our biologicals portfolio. The performance of HB4 Soy varieties has been promising, with an average yield improvement of 7%."

🛠️ New Products & Facilities

Local Bounti to Open Cutting-Edge CEA Facility in Texas

Local Bounti Corporation is set to unveil a state-of-the-art controlled environment agriculture (CEA) facility in Mount Pleasant, Texas, on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. CEO Craig Hurlbert highlights the significance:

“We are proud to unveil our latest cutting-edge CEA facility in Mount Pleasant, Texas. Powered by our innovative and patented Stack & Flow Technology®, this state-of-the-art greenhouse will bolster our rapidly expanding capacity across the U.S. to help meet customer demand in Texas and further support our distribution across the Southern United States. This facility represents another significant milestone for Local Bounti and an opportunity for the local Mount Pleasant economy through job creation. Our commitment to sustainable agriculture and community engagement remains steadfast, and we’re excited to make a positive impact in Mount Pleasant and the surrounding region.”

Lindsay Corporation Enhances FieldNET Advisor™

Lindsay Corporation has announced major updates to its award-winning irrigation management solution, FieldNET Advisor™. These enhancements aim to streamline irrigation decisions and improve ROI for growers through real-time data updates, whole farm management, and simplified subscriptions.

FieldNET Advisor uses over 50 years of crop and irrigation research to provide actionable insights, helping growers maximize yields. The latest updates add more data, enabling growers to reduce costs, conserve resources, and apply precise water amounts for healthier crops. Kurtis Charling, VP of AgTech Solutions for Lindsay, explains:

“FieldNET Advisor has empowered growers to produce healthier crops and develop more sustainable farming practices by providing recommendations on when, where, and how much to irrigate. We asked growers for their feedback and incorporated new features and technology to provide additional insights to help get the best return in the field and their bottom line.”

Artemy: A Breakthrough in Agricultural Robotics

DENSO Corporation and Certhon have unveiled Artemy, a revolutionary robot designed to enhance harvesting in greenhouse environments. Artemy uses advanced vision technology to assess and pick ripe truss tomatoes, improving efficiency and reducing labor.

Artemy's standout feature is its automatic lane-change function, which allows it to navigate greenhouse lanes without traditional tracks. This function, combined with sophisticated sensor and image recognition technology, boosts operational efficiency. Additionally, Artemy automates crate replacement and transfer, easing physical strain for workers. Certhon CEO Lotte van Rijn remarks:

“The automatic lane-change function allows Artemy to autonomously move between running lanes, addressing a critical need in greenhouse operations and significantly reducing labor requirements.”

🌱 Plant Science

Bee Vectoring Technologies Advances CR-7 Seed Treatment for Soybeans

Bee Vectoring Technologies International Inc. (BVT) is making waves with its proprietary biological control agent, Clonostachys rosea strain CR-7 (CR-7). Now under advanced R&D for use as a seed treatment for soybeans, CR-7 is showing promise for commercialization in the agriculture sector. CEO Ashish Malik highlights the significance:

“Investing in this research is crucial for understanding the potential market for a CR-7 seed treatment product. This study allowed us to assess the effectiveness and safety of CR-7 on soybean seed, duration of action, and compatibility with other treatments. These are fundamental studies to support launching this product and further advancing our partnership opportunities.”

Cyprus Approves Emergency Use of SPEAR® LEP Bioinsecticide

Cyprus joins the ranks of EU countries granting emergency access to Vestaron’s bioinsecticide, SPEAR® LEP, to combat the destructive tomato leafminer (Tuta absoluta). Effective from May 2 to August 29, 2024, this approval allows Cypriot farmers to tackle infestations during peak pest periods. SPEAR LEP’s benefits extend beyond leafminers, targeting a range of lepidopteran pests while maintaining low toxicity to non-target species.

Purdue University Launches Indiana Organic Network

With a nearly $1M USDA grant, Purdue University has launched the Indiana Organic Network (ION) to improve soil health on organic farms. Led by Yichao Rui and Ashley Adair, the initiative aims to boost sustainable farming practices across Indiana. Rui emphasizes:

“This project is about empowering Indiana organic farmers.”

Adair adds:

“The formation of the Indiana Organic Network is something Indiana has needed. We would like to see farmers—whether they’re grain farmers, specialty crop farmers, or livestock farmers—take the reins and lead this network forward so that it can be for the farmer, by the farmer.”

S&W Seed Company Launches Double Team Forage Sorghum

S&W Seed Company (Nasdaq: SANW) unveils Double Team Forage Sorghum, a non-GMO solution for grassy weed control in forage sorghum. Following the success of Double Team Grain Sorghum, CEO Mark Herrmann anticipates significant benefits for forage growers:

“The launch of Double Team Forage Sorghum represents a significant step forward in our commitment to enhance sorghum cultivation. Just as we’ve seen with Double Team Grain Sorghum, we anticipate that this new technology will offer similar benefits in terms of ROI and yield improvements for forage growers.”

ProGro BIO Expands U.S. In-Field Trial Program

ProGro BIO’s 2024 in-field trial program kicks off, building on the success of last year’s initiative. The program showcases Rhizol, an advanced soil inoculant promoting soil biodiversity and crop yields. Field Director Zach Lancaster is optimistic:

“On the heels of our successful 2023 program, the interest in ProGro’s 2024 program has been extremely well received. Buoyed by the success of last year, we are significantly expanding into new geographies and markets.”

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