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Future of Agriculture

Welcome to the Future of Agriculture Podcast with Tim Hammerich. This show explores the people, companies, and ideas shaping the future of agribusiness. If you are curious about innovations in AgTech, rural entrepreneurship, agricultural sustainability, and food security, this is the show for you! For more details on the guests featured on this show, visit the blog at www.FutureOfAg.com. Or, to learn more about career opportunities in agriculture, visit www.AgGrad.com Make sure you’re subscribed so you can catch another fascinating ag innovator next week!
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Now displaying: October, 2020
Oct 28, 2020

Typically when we think of food waste we imagine processed food ending up in the landfill. In this episode we explore a solution to reduce crop waste caused by microbes, mycotoxins or viral particles. Nanoguard Technologies has developed a device to reduce the microbial load without any residue or additional chemical input. Larry Clarke is the CEO of Nanoguard Technologies and joins us today to share the advances the company is making.

 

“Being able to reduce these mycotoxins saves the farmer from getting the discounts, allows him a non-complex supply chain by being able to get rid of his grain, peanuts and rice, but it also allows the animal industry to have better efficiencies.” - Larry Clarke

 

With limited treatment options, many producers have to resort to devaluing their crop in order to find a market. As well as helping row crop producers, this new technology also contributes to longer shelf lives of fresh produce and even meat products due to reduced microbial activities. 

 

“We’re seeing shelf life extensions, 3 - 5 days on fruits and vegetables, a week or more on meats. We’ve seen tomatoes last upwards of 28 days longer. So the longer we have within our supply chain to keep these products fresh, the more likely they are not going to be wasted.” - Larry Clarke

 

The device uses a high voltage cold plasma technology that activates the air causing reactive gases that are then capable of killing microbes, detoxifying mycotoxins and deactivating viruses. There is no assumed residue and very low variable costs. The upfront investment is in the device itself which is then incorporated into machinery likely to be at grain and processing facilities already. Currently they are still in the testing phase but the potential ramifications are endless and can really make a difference in the global food supply chain. 

 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Larry Clarke, CEO of Nanoguard Technologies
  • Discover what this company is offering producers to mitigate crop and food loss
  • Explore the potential global impact this device can make

Join the FOA Community!

Be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of the ag industry.

Find us online!

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

Oct 21, 2020

Rural locations often have limited connectivity to cellular data. Dr. Sara Spangelo is the CEO and co-founder of Swarm Technologies. Their company launches constellations of small, sandwich-sized, low cost, two-way satellites into lower orbit space to provide affordable global connectivity.  Different space programs offer them access to launching their devices including Space-X and Vega among others. 

“That will provide us with a network of 150 satellites for global continuous coverage - covering every point on earth at all times and essentially providing a lower cost version of existing networks.” - Dr. Sara Spangelo

Swarm technologies is finding a home in agriculture technology as a solution to poor cellular connection. Sensor type devices will be able to send data continuously to producers at a reasonable cost. The business itself involves the acquisition of a modem that would then get embedded into a third party device. Users are then charged based on their data volume. The target customer is agriculture technology companies to have their technology incorporated into their devices with the end consumer being the producers.

“90% of our world has no connectivity except for these very prohibitively expensive solutions. And that’s really what Swarm is trying to solve for, that 90%, at an affordable point.” - Dr. Sara Spangelo

Dr. Spangelo recommends any interested companies contact them soon. Their connectivity capacity is limited so getting in line early may prove significant. Swarm Technologies is already working on the next iteration of their technology to provide more to their customers. The satellites function for 4 years before experiencing complete destruction upon entering earth's atmosphere giving them the opportunity to continually replace their equipment without any additional pollution in space. 

Stay tuned to the end of the episode for a startup spotlight featuring Bloomfield Robotics CEO Mark DeSantis. Bloomfield uses artificial intelligence to help producers learn more about their crop conditions. 

“We’re creating a massive digital database of plant phenotypes.” - Mark DeSantis

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Dr. Sara Spangelo, CEO and co-founder of Swarm Technologies
  • Explore the connectivity their technology in space satellites can offer remote areas
  • Learn about the process of launching satellites and find out what makes Swarm Technology unique in the connectivity space
  • “Startup Spotlight” featuring Mark DeSantis of Bloomfield Robotics

Join the FOA Community!

Be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of the ag industry.

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

Oct 14, 2020

Great show for you today, especially for the entrepreneurs in the audience. We have on the show Joe Dales, who in his current capacity is the CoFounder and President of Agri & Food Innovation at RH Accelerator in London, Ontario, Canada. 

In this episode, we talk about the importance and the elusiveness of product-market fit - meaning creating not just a great product or service, but one that the market is eager to pay for. We also talk a lot about attracting and retaining talent to the ag industry, and the future of work. 

Joe’s extensive experience in bringing innovations to the market really shines through in this episode. He has been involved in successfully launching over 40 agtech innovations ranging from crop protection products, to seed varieties, to biologicals, to software companies. In 1998, he co-founded Farms.com Ltd. and AgCareers.com which have grown to become a leading supplier of innovative solutions to farmers, agriculture and food companies around the global, he remains a major shareholder and director.

Be sure to stay tuned to the end of this episode for great stuff from Joe, but also a startup spotlight. This one is another Canadian company, from a few provinces over in Alberta. Rob Saik makes his third appearance on this show to talk about his newest venture AgVisorPro, so make sure to stick around for that at the end of today’s show. 

 

Joe Dales Quotes: 

“I’ve always looked at where innovation in agriculture come together, and think about how they can help farmers.”

“You'll know when you get product-market fit, you definitely know when you don't have it, because there's crickets. I'll take it to (farmers like) my brother or my best friend, and say, ‘Hey, what do you think of this?’ And they'll go, ‘that's nice’, but they aren't gonna use it.”

“Building (software) is sometimes the easiest part. It’s the education, it’s the branding, it’s getting people using it.”

“Our sector isn't a true consumer sector. It's more B2B than B2C because every decision can be hugely costly. If they make a bad decision, you know, on selecting a crop or where they spend their time. And they've got it to do list usually a mile long, especially in season. So giving them a new scouting app or giving them a new tool. You better show them how it'll save them time and money, and that it's proven.”

“Just about every company I'm dealing with, talent is the number one issue. They could scale; they could do things a lot more quickly. But there's a farmer or there's a CEO and he needs four more highly motivated, highly skilled, highly networked individuals to help them grow the business.”

“We look at the product and the concept: where is it? Do we like it? And then quickly we move right to the founders: what do we think of them? Do they know the sector? You know, if they want to do something on dairy farms: are they from a dairy family? Unless you're from it and really intimately knowledgeable about the sector, or willing to pay the price and go out and visit, you’re higher risk.”

“So all these technologies are swirling around in our sector and this just, how do we, how do we onboard them? How do we get them up and running? And how do we help farmers get the value out of them? Because once they do that, then there's real companies there.”

“I wake up everyday trying to help farmers save money (and/or) make money through innovation. And I've had success, but still I love doing it every day. It gets me moving early in the morning and I’m very passionate about it. And I feel good in some small way, we're helping feed the world. So it's pretty easy to remain motivated.”

 

Rob Saik Quotes: 

“The number of times through the course of the year, when a farmer could reach out to really talk to people with deep domain expertise that could help the farming operation are numerous”

“If farmers or anybody out there has deep domain knowledge in farm software, like a Climate Fieldview or Granular or Trimble ag software. They could list themselves as a software expert and help other people in the sector. It could be other farmers helping other farmers.”

“But coming through COVID people are starting to realize that technology can shrink time and space. We can stretch brains and not bodies, just as we're doing right now (recording this podcast), we can solve problems from a distance.”

 

 

Oct 7, 2020

We talk a lot about data in agriculture. Yield data, aerial data, weather data, soil data, data interoperability, data ownership, and on and on and on. What we’re not talking about enough, however, is data quality. More and more and more data is not helpful unless it is QUALITY data. We have the quantity, there’s no shortage of farm data out there, but how do we improve the QUALITY? 

We often fall into the trap of assuming more data is better data, when in reality, better data is better data. We’ll explain why in this episode. You’ve probably heard of data being “cleaned” or being “scrubbed”. But what does that mean? Why is this so hard to do with farm data? Why is this a problem and what can be done about it? 

“Right now the industry is really really excited about all of the data that we can produce...but I really feel like the second generation of the data wave here in agriculture is going to be quality, and comparability, and what metrics do we measure excellence by. Those are going to be the things that make the difference.” - Kyle Mehmen, General Manager, MBS Family Farms

All of these are questions and more are addressed in today’s episode as we bring on farmer Kyle Mehmen and New Leaf Symbiotics Technical Sales Lead Brad Walkup to talk about their experiences in focusing on getting higher quality data from their trials. 

“Agriculture for years has been a race to see who can grow the most commodity. I feel like in the next 5-8 years, I’m hoping we can get to the point that we can differentiate crops by quality. Therefore a grower will have a unique value position in the market, rather than just #2 yellow corn.” - Brad Walkup, Technical Sales Lead, New Leaf Symbiotics

 

This episode is another one that I’ve partnered with my friends at In10t to bring to you. This year I’ve really wanted to explore where innovative ideas meet practical realities in agtech, and there is no company doing more in this area than In10t, so they’re the perfect partner, not only for this episode, but also for episode 194 called “Accelerating AgTech Adoption” where we talked about the importance of on-farm trials, and episode 215 entitled “Bridging the Gap Between Farmers and AgTech” where we talked about the real challenges in getting trials right. 

 

From those episodes, you may assume In10t is a consulting company that helps arrange farmer trials. That’s how they got their start, but as VP of Technology Mike Hartquist will tell you, they have evolved into a technology platform as well.

 

“We look at technology as almost the third piece of the pie. We do (technology) well, and we want that to be the core of how it fits together, but our people and process is really how we got here...We don’t want to create this cool tool, but it’s not useful. Let’s get out in the field, and go walk fields and use a spreadsheet, and go figure out how it works and what works and what doesn’t, and then let’s let technology make it better for us.” - Mike Hartquist, VP of Technology at In10t

 

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Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! And be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of ag.

Learn more about AgGrad by visiting: 

Future of Agriculture Website

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