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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: Category: Agriculture Business
Mar 29, 2021

The reason for today’s special episode is The Farm Workforce Modernization Act that recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is now moving on to the Senate. This legislation is an effort to make progress on the mess that is U.S. ag labor policy. Shay Myers, a farmer who was featured on this show back in episode 178, called me to talk about the importance of this bill to U.S. farmers and their employees. In fact, over 300 agricultural organizations supported the bill. Ag labor reform like this has been attempted for decades, but has never been passed, mostly due to politics. 

First, what does this bill do? Put simply, it improves the process for H-2A workers, which is the name of the visa for temporary agricultural workers. It also makes it mandatory that agricultural employers e-verify employees legal work status for employment. Finally, and perhaps most controversially, it establishes a program for agricultural workers and their families who are already in the United States to earn legal status through continued agricultural employment if they meet certain requirements. 

Mar 24, 2021

Thanks to the FieldWork podcast for sponsoring this episode. Visit www.FieldWork.org to learn more. 

 

This episode is a good follow up to Episode 250 about one example of how agtech is helping smallholder farmers in developing countries. We are again talking about the potential for agtech in developing markets in this episode, but this time from a different perspective. My guest Igor Buchatskiy sees real opportunities in very large integrated agricultural operations. Whereas last week we focused on smallholder farmers, this episode is about the very large, sophisticated operations that are hungry for technology and innovation in the developing world. 

Igor is a mechanical engineer by training, but after getting his MBA at the University of Chicago, he started a career in management consulting. That led to a job with a family office back in his home country of Ukraine. It was in that role that he discovered his love and fascination for agriculture in 2007. Since that time, he’s worked all over the world with agricultural operations and agtech startups. He’s based in Boston, but you never know where in the world he is going to be. In fact, at the time of this interview he was working on a project in Saudi Arabia. 

 

“(Working in agriculture) was a revelation. Seriously, I thought wow, that's what I should have been doing for the last 10 years instead of mechanical engineering and management consulting because it was just an amazing experience. So I dove head in into that business and we started growing it, bringing new technology, new breed, new genetics, et cetera, et cetera.” - Igor Buchatskiy

 

Igor shares that he was able to be a part of the “Ukranianian Golden Rush” which involved former Soviet union republics recovering from the collective farm system that was no longer in place. The economics and margins were very favorable in the agricultural sector that had previously flown under the radar of other investors. He observed the consolidation of many small farms into large dominant players in the industry. 

 

“What gets me excited is the fact that there are so many bright ideas, you know out of the box ideas that are happening now. And we are at the point in time where the technologies are becoming more accessible, more affordable, and we're getting to the sort of a scale at which all these technologies and all these ideas are starting to converge.” - Igor Buchatskiy

 

Igor shares that in Ukraine and Russia he is observing a lot of large vertically integrated operations. By virtue of the size and employment support of these companies, they are able to use, take advantage of and capitalize on new agriculture technologies where a small benefit in margin can create major revenue on that scale. This allows for large gains in agricultural technology companies by engaging with some of these major players. 

 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Igor Buchatskiy an entrepreneur, ag startup mentor, and board advisor.
  • Discover Igor’s journey into agriculture and the potential he saw in the industry
  • Learn about the agriculture industry in the Ukraine and Russia and the trend towards large vertically integrated operations

 

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. I’m sending out my email newsletter on a more regular basis, focusing on what I call the front lines of agtech: where product meets producer. You can sign up for that at www.FutureOfAg.com. There’s an email icon in the center of the page, just click on that and it will take you to a signup form.

Do you have suggestions for topics to be explored? Tweet them to me @timhammerich or email them to tim@aggrad.com

Find us online!

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

Mar 17, 2021

Thanks to the FieldWork podcast for sponsoring this episode. Visit www.FieldWork.org to learn more. 

We talk a lot about the types of technologies that are geared towards larger operations, but what’s out there that has the potential to really improve the lives of small farmers, especially of those in developing countries. We have a really interesting example of one of these innovations in this episode. Weather Risk Management Services is an India-based company that collects data to help producers manage their risks. The company started off as offering just crop insurance products, which is still a big part of their business, but they’ve also expanded into products that incentivize and reward farmers for using risk management strategies. 

In other words, a farmer pays a premium and agrees to certain farming practices. In return they are provided a guaranteed yield, and paid if their yield drops below that threshold. This helps take away the risk of adopting new practices. Weather Risk Management Services has worked with over 30,000 farmers in India already, and hopes to grow to one million farmers in the next five years. Founder Sonu Agrawal joins us to share the process, goals and impacts of the company.

“So in many developing countries … not only in India, but several countries in Asia and Africa, there is very low or no access to crop insurance contracts. And since there is no crop insurance, access to finance is also a big challenge because banks do not lend money to small farmers. The banks are not covered against losses due to adverse weather events. So there is a complete lack of access to crop insurance.” Sonu Agrawal

Sonu shares that Weather Risk Management Services provides access to affordable crop insurance that also provides incentives to “the farmer to use better risk management practices.” These practices include things like using drought resistant seeds, applying additional nutrition to the crops or arranging irrigation to their fields. Satellite data helps to monitor these additional practices to make sure the crop is insured appropriately. Farmers then either benefit by way of a reduced premium or increased coverage based on a projected yield.

“Before we enter a village, a lot of analysis is done…..So we analyze and then identify the more important risks or the factors which have resulted in sub optimized yield. And then the whole production process, what we call the package of practices, is designed in such a way so that we can improve the yields gradually.” - Sonu Agrawal

Farmers are offered smaller contracts when they start with Weather Risk Management Services. This is done to overcome any trust concerns and allow producers to take advantage of the gradual increased yield at their desired pace. There is a lot of learning done by the farmers and the company to assess what yields can be expected and what measures can be taken for improvement in these initial smaller contracts. Sonu shares that in the first year of collaboration with a farmer they expect a 5-7% increase in yield, followed by 10-12% in the second year and up to 15-20% in the third year. 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Sonu Agrawal the founder of Weather Risk Management Services
  • Discover what their company offers small farmers in rural areas of India where crop insurance and financing access is limited
  • Explore the innovative methods used to incentivize increased yield production practices

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. I’m sending out my email newsletter on a more regular basis, focusing on what I call the front lines of agtech: where product meets producer. You can sign up for that at www.FutureOfAg.com. There’s an email icon in the center of the page, just click on that and it will take you to a signup form.

Do you have suggestions for topics to be explored? Tweet them to me @timhammerich or email them to tim@aggrad.com

Find us online!

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

Mar 10, 2021

Thanks to the FieldWork podcast for sponsoring this episode. Visit www.FieldWork.org to learn more. 

David Doll is the General Manager of Rota Unica Agriculture based in Portugal. He grew up on a direct-to-consumer apple and peach orchard in southern Indiana, then got a master’s degree in plant pathology from UC Davis. After a decade as a farm advisor for the University of California focused on tree nuts, he took on his current role of moving to Portugal to manage a large-scale diversified tree crop operation there. On top of all of that, he writes what I think is probably the most in-depth blog dedicated to just one crop that I’ve ever seen at The Almond Doctor. I’ve really appreciated interacting with David online and in the FoA community. I think you’re going to really enjoy his perspective here today. 

 

“I think everyone would say the same thing, but you have to be able to be willing to know what your shortfalls are, be honest with yourself and then throw in the extra effort in order to pick yourself up. I'll be honest, I never thought I would ever be negotiating a loan that's probably more money than I'll ever earn in my life.

But you know, you walk in, you do it and you learn a few things along the way and move on.” - David Doll

 

David shares his experience in going from managing an operation with a $250,000 annual budget to his current operation with more than a $80 million budget. His employer felt that he could be taught the finances overtime but needed to come prepared with the horticulture and orchard experience to support their endeavors. David dove in and has learned and experienced a lot since being there. 

 

“So the investment group is not a Portuguese company. It's actually an American company. And their thesis is food is a way to move water in a commodity that people want. That's it. It’s such a simple statement but it's right on the spot.” - David Doll

 

“We are taking a resource from where we have it and where it may be plentiful at a given time and producing something with it and then moving that to an area that one can’t produce that crop or doesn’t have the resources to produce that crop.” David elaborates by discussing the value of water based on whether it is from a renewable or finite resource. This is definitely a different perspective than the more short-sighted opinion of not viewing water as a significant valuable commodity. David’s blog explores some of these concepts and many other management techniques with all things almonds. “It’s kind of a niche blog but I enjoy it.”

 

“It's kind of this technical writing with a translational twist is what I call it. So I'm always writing about a technical subject, but I'm using that and translating that to help people understand my thought process of how I approach that problem.” - David Doll

 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet David Doll the General Manager of Rota Unica Agriculture based in Portugal and author of www.TheAlmondDoctor.com
  • Discover the journey David Doll has taken to become a major almond producer in Portugal
  • Explore an international perspective for the future of agriculture and the unique challenges faced by our counterparts in different parts of the world
  • Learn what inspired “The Almond Doctor” blog and the benefits it offers

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. I’m sending out my email newsletter on a more regular basis, focusing on what I call the front lines of agtech: where product meets producer. You can sign up for that at www.FutureOfAg.com. There’s an email icon in the center of the page, just click on that and it will take you to a signup form.

Do you have suggestions for topics to be explored? Tweet them to me @timhammerich or email them to tim@aggrad.com

Find us online!

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

Mar 3, 2021

We can all agree that sustainability that comes at the expense of productivity and efficiency is not truly sustainable at all. We are going to need to meld together what’s best for the productivity and profitability of growers with the ecosystem services they can provide. 

Just recently agtech company FluroSat announced that they acquired another agtech company, Dagan, and the combined company was re-branded to a new name: Regrow. You might remember FluroSat founder Anastasia Volkova from her first appearance on this podcast back in episode 175. She joins us again today, now as CEO of Regrow, along with Dagan co-founder and now Regrow Chief Strategy Officer Bill Salas. Both of them are accomplished scientists as well as entrepreneurs. We have a great conversation here about why this merger made sense, what differentiates their carbon model, called DNDC, from other ways to model carbon sequestration, and how their newly combined and rebranded company will help growers maximize productivity, profitability, and sustainability. 

 

“DNDC’s approach is much more first principles on how management influences soil environment, which in turn influences which microbes are more active and drives the outcomes in terms of soil carbon turnover and greenhouse gas emissions.” -Bill Salas

 

“Dagan was interested in how to create the value proposition for soil health at scale.” They went about this by achieving satellite monitoring to monitor large acreages. The network that Dagan had developed between researchers, NGO’s such as the Nature Conservancy, consumer packaged food companies and carbon markets was extensive but lacked a direct connection to producers themselves. Bill shares that they had focused on creating data for multiple partners and by merging with FluroSat they were able to pair that mission with an easy-to-use platform. 

 

“We saw that by adding sustainability monitoring to agronomy and marrying our crop model with the DNDC soil model, we would ... understand where it would be profitable to start adopting these practices and it could form the decision support tool that our customers are seeking as well as connect players across the supply chain.” -Anastasia Volkova

 

Anastasia highlights that one of her goals has always been to facilitate the decision making of producers to incorporate sustainability into their operations. Making the data acquisition process easy and accessible allows producers to capitalize on any sustainable efforts they are making. While carbon sequestration is a great benefit of sustainable practices, nitrogen management, greenhouse gas emissions and better biodiversity are also common sequelae and part of the Regrow mindset. 

 

“We want to make sure that agriculture gets a chance to get it right, scientifically, transparently, and bring this sustainability excitement into an operationalizable business model that scales without taking too many shortcuts on the quality and transparency.” -Anastasia Volkova



Checkout the FieldWork Podcast as well on any podcast platform or at www.FieldWork.org.

 

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. I’m sending out my email newsletter on a more regular basis, focusing on what I call the front lines of agtech: where product meets producer. You can sign up for that at www.FutureOfAg.com. There’s an email icon in the center of the page, just click on that and it will take you to a signup form.

Do you have suggestions for topics to be explored? Tweet them to me @timhammerich or email them to tim@aggrad.com

Find us online!

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

Feb 24, 2021

The question of “what are the real problems in agriculture that need to be solved?” is one we ask often here on this show. If you ask that to a dozen people, you’ll probably get about 20 different answers. But herbicide resistance is one that hits home for many. As you’re about to hear, the tools we’ve been using for decades are becoming less and less effective, and the pipeline for new active ingredients has been empty for a long time. Every year more and more weeds show signs of resistance - which is not a trend that can continue. 

Today’s guests are the co-founders and co-CEOs of Israel-based WeedOut, a biological herbicide company which uses proprietary pollen to sterilize weeds like Palmer Amaranth, otherwise known as pigweed. Dr. Efrat Lidor Nili and Dr. Orly Noivirt-Brik are both accomplished scientists who have already been a part of one successful exit: they worked at Rosetta Green which was purchased by Monsanto in 2013. WeedOUT is a portfolio company of Fulcrum Global Capital, who partnered with me on this episode.

 

“As we continued to focus on (weed resistance) we understood that this a very significant problem not only in the US but also in Europe, also in China, Australia, South American and all over the world. Out of the 26 modes of action of herbicides 23 have already reported resistance.” -Dr. Orly Noivirt-Brik

 

“In order to slow down this process of resistant development, it’s very important to combine new tactics.” WeedOut has produced a biological pollen that works with the weeds biology to obstruct their reproductive cycle. This is a new mechanism of action that the weeds will not have developed any resistance to. It will also be difficult for weeds to create resistance because they will not be capable of producing more generations that could evolve and adapt. “We are actually reducing significantly the seed bank year after year.” Their main focus so far has been to target Palmer Amaranth as it is a weed of significant resistance and wide dissemination. They do not plan to replace chemical herbicide but rather increase its efficacy by not solely relying on it. 

 

“By blocking resistance using our own methods, then you can extend the lifetime of the chemicals that are currently used instead of switching to more toxic chemicals...So actually by blocking resistance, we are preserving the entire set of products that are available today making them efficient for many more years.” -Dr. Efrat Lidor Nili

 

“Our strategy is first to fit our technology to the standard tools that all farmers have. And with the second layer we will continue and explore this opportunity to spray it using drones.” As well as developing different methods of delivery they hope to expand to different weeds. Weeds most susceptible to this technology would reproduce via cross or wind pollination. WeedOut has found success in finding investors that will allow continued expansion and development with a hopeful launch in 2023.

 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Dr. Efrat Lidor Nili and Dr. Orly Noivirt-Brik, co-CEOs of WeedOut
  • Explore the concern regarding herbicide resistance and the lack of progress being made in that space
  • Learn about the biological solution WeedOut has proven and will be providing to producers globally to combat herbicide resistance of Palmer Amaranth

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. I’m sending out my email newsletter on a more regular basis, focusing on what I call the front lines of agtech: where product meets producer. You can sign up for that at www.FutureOfAg.com. There’s an email icon in the center of the page, just click on that and it will take you to a signup form.

Do you have suggestions for topics to be explored? Tweet them to me @timhammerich or email them to tim@aggrad.com

Find us online!

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

Feb 17, 2021

Today Janette Barnard co-hosts to bring us an innovative virtual fencing product for cattle ranchers. Frank Wooten joins us as the founder of Vence. Vence offers producers optionality in their grazing operations whether large or small. This technology provides for rotational grazing opportunities while bridging obstacles such as large uneven terrain, poor connectivity and weather dynamics. The ramifications of this opportunity may allow US producers to better compete in the grass fed and grass finished product market. 

 

“At a high level we are solving the problem of increasing yield and land management for cow-calf and cattle operators around the world…..we are enabling the ability to set up animal control at a very granular level without the need for physical fences or manual labor.” - Frank Wooten

 

“It’s not that physical fences are an insufficient solution. It's that they are a static solution to a dynamic problem.” To be able to adapt your ranching practices to changes in your land and terrain allows for more flexibility and improved land stewardship. “There are more livestock on the planet than there are cars on the road” leading to their management and land use being of the utmost significance. Producers would be able to access the location of their animals and schedule their proposed movement to best suit their needs. 

 

The cattle become trained to the sound emitted by individual collars to be able to know where they can move without stimulating an electric shock. GPS chip technology and a tower built at a high location makes cell coverage not an issue for producers to connect with their animals.  Only the tower itself needs cell coverage. Each collar then communicates with their assigned tower like a walkie-talkie. “We have yet to find a farm that in the right position we can’t get some sort of cell coverage on.” 

 

“A cattleman’s job is to translate grass into a saleable final product….the increase in grass productivity is driven via managing the grass in a particular way and it is also driven via the soil….that allows customers to increase the productivity of the land. ” - Frank Wooten

 

“We spend a lot of time making sure that we understand exactly what the cost structure looks like for our customers and making sure that we are giving them something that is materially better than what they have currently and that it is cost justified.” One expected financial benefit is that producers are seeing a decrease in needing external sources of feed for their animals. However, Frank does explain that there “is a process there” and that the land will take some time to recover as weather, water and grass species allow. The flexibility Vence allows for will allow for optimization of land management practices from a convenient platform the producer can access from their mobile devices.  

 

“We're in this for the long run with (producers) as well. We're not making money off those collars on day one, or even year one or year two, for that matter. It's a long-term business relationship that we're looking to have and establish with customers.” - Frank Wooten



This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Frank Wooten, co-founder of Vence 
  • Explore the different obstacles this technology has overcome and the opportunities in virtual fencing available to cattle producers
  • Learn about available techniques to better contribute to land stewardship in the cattle production industry

 

Subscribe to Janette’s newsletter: PRIME FUTURE.

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. I’m sending out my email newsletter on a more regular basis, focusing on what I call the front lines of agtech: where product meets producer. You can sign up for that at www.FutureOfAg.com. There’s an email icon in the center of the page, just click on that and it will take you to a signup form.

Do you have suggestions for topics to be explored? Tweet them to me @timhammerich or email them to tim@aggrad.com

Find us online!

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

Feb 10, 2021

Today’s show connects back to episode 241 with Craig Rupp of Sabanto, where we talked about, among many other things, how the Climate Corp has been able to become a central data collection platform on so many large scale farms.  Ranjeeta Singh, the Chief Product Officer of The Climate Corp joins us to further explore data ownership, product strategy and design thinking. Ranjeeta was hired last year to drive the product strategy and roadmap for Climate’s digital farming solutions. She has more than two decades of background in hardware and software at the intersection of IoT, AI and data science with companies like Intel and Teradata. She holds five patents at Intel, and multiple publications. She is also the recipient of the “Top 50 under 50 most powerful women in technology”. Her perspective as someone coming from a career in tech to now a career in agtech is something I found interesting and insightful. 

 

“People only think of Climate as a Fieldview platform...I have talked about the three lines of business. We talk about software as a service which is a Fieldview platform, data as a service which is the actual platform and how you organize and store data...and then we have professional services where you’re more focused on tailored solutions.” - Ranjeeta Singh

 

Ranjeeta highlights design thinking principles in developing new products whereby you focus on customer pain points and design solutions with a go-to market approach.

“Product really helps you define the business case and the requirements so it helps define why you’re doing something before you get into the what and the how.” Data as a service is a hot topic now among producers including what happens after the data is collected and analyzed. “The concern has always been about what constitutes proper notice to the consumers that the data is being collected and the privacy of that data….the producers are understandably worried about the information getting in the hands of the wrong people.”

 

“Our view has always been that the data collected to the digital farming tools belongs to the farmers....You can anonymize the data and you can leverage the insights based on it but do not share the data without the consent of the farmers.” - Ranjeeta Singh

 

Insights from this data analysis can for example establish calculated recommendations as to what inputs, at what rate and in which location can be most beneficial to their operations. “We are giving value to them through professional services.” The current focus of her team is evolving the software to best address the needs of producers and creating pilot programs to optimize the benefit to individual operations and their exposure to these new technologies.

 

“I think we need to build out this ecosystem of players and ecosystem of products and technology, but people should be able to choose what they want to.” - Ranjeeta Singh

 

Ranjeeta believes that by making a compelling product producers will be able to accomplish multiple goals within one system. If a company is unable to fill a specific void and provide that type of service then producers should have the choice to use and combine different technologies together. While they may be deemed competitors, Ranjeeta supports not locking producers into any one system but rather focusing on making the best product for her customers and allowing them to choose the system that best fits their needs. 



This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Ranjeeta Singh, the Chief Product Officer of The Climate Corp
  • Explore the intricacies and considerations regarding collecting, analyzing and disseminating producer generated data.
  • Learn about the core belief systems and three lines of business Climate Corp is engaged in
  • Learn more about Climate Corp at www.climate.com

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. I’m sending out my email newsletter on a more regular basis, focusing on what I call the front lines of agtech: where product meets producer. You can sign up for that at www.FutureOfAg.com. There’s an email icon in the center of the page, just click on that and it will take you to a signup form.

Do you have suggestions for topics to be explored? Tweet them to me @timhammerich or email them to tim@aggrad.com

Find us online!

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

Feb 3, 2021

This is one of two short episodes I’m releasing for you today, both exploring some aspect of farm data. You may have already listened to the first part with Dr. Terry Griffin at Kansas State University.

Now we turn our attention to another Purdue graduate, Aaron Gault, cofounder and agronomy manager of Advanced Agrilytics. Advanced Agrilytics offers agronomy services equipped with their analytics platform, which helps farmer customers get a better picture of what’s working and not working in their agronomic practices. 

Aaron focuses on in-season crop management and the understanding of real-time crop performance influenced by the environmental conditions of any given growing season. Aaron’s ability to integrate yield response probability with in-field stimuli is a key component of Advanced Agrilytics sub-acre approach to understanding yield. Before joining Advanced Agrilyitcs, Aaron worked as a professional agronomist for leading agriculture companies.

Aaron and I discuss what makes Advanced Agrilytics approach different from others, how this aspect of the precision agriculture industry has evolved, and how the farmer can best utilize their own data to improve their operation.

 

JOIN THE FOA COMMUNITY: www.Patreon.com/agriculture

Feb 3, 2021

For the first time, I’m releasing two episodes on the same day. I’ve trimmed each of the two episodes down to about half of my normal length so the total time commitment on your part is still about the same as a regular week, but if you’re a subscriber, you probably already noticed, there are two today. 

There’s a few reasons for this, but mostly it’s to try something new. This isn’t something I’m planning to keep doing on a regular basis, but maybe occasionally, if you like it, so let me know what you think. 

Both of today’s episodes are about farm data. This one you’re about to hear is on the economics of farm data with Dr. Terry Griffin, and the next one is on the analytics of farm data with Aaron Gault, which I encourage you to listen to after this one.  

I’ve been meaning to bring Dr. Terry Griffin on the show for a long time, because he is not only well-researched and data-driven, but as you’ll hear he’s not afraid to explore ideas that may be somewhat unconventional or even unpopular.

Terry is associate professor and cropping systems economist at Kansas State University specializing in farm management and agricultural technology. For his achievements in advancing digital agriculture, Griffin has received the 2014 Pierre C. Robert International Precision Agriculture Young Scientist Award, the 2012 Conservation Systems Precision Ag Researcher of the Year, and the 2010 PrecisionAg Award of Excellence for Researchers.

Terry and I discussed how farm data should be valued, some of the nuances of adoption of variable rate technology, and why he doesn’t advise farmers to jump headfirst into joining a data service. 

 

JOIN THE FOA MEMBERSHIP COMMUNITY: www.Patreon.com/agriculture

Jan 27, 2021

Big shoutout to two new members of the FoA community this week, Italo Guedes and Sara Faivre, thank you both for your involvement and support. If you’d like to support this show and join a community of some really smart people passionate about ag, you can do so at www.patreon.com/agriculture

For years, I have been on a somewhat public quest to understand regenerative agriculture. Where is the line between regenerative and not regenerative? Are these claims I’m hearing of more profit with very few inputs credible? Where is the science that backs all this up? Where does ag innovation and technology fit into this model? These are just a few of the many questions I have asked. This goes back to episode 44 in 2017, and shows up again and again in episodes 64, 109, 135, 182, 199, 216, 222, and 232...just to name a few. Frankly, I’m often left with more questions than answers. Not because my guests haven’t been forthcoming - they have. I think it’s more due to the fact that it’s more complicated. As my guest on today’s show will say, it’s not about practices, it’s about principles. 

As it has caught on in popularity, there are a lot of people who have wanted to come on the podcast and talk about regenerative agriculture. But the people that I have gravitated to most on the subject are the practitioners themselves, the farmers making this work. And the scientists trying to provide the data to separate fact from fiction. We have on today’s show, someone who is both a farmer and a scientist, Dr. Jonathan Lundgren. 

Dr. Lundgren is the director ECDYSIS Foundation, and CEO for Blue Dasher Farm in South Dakota. He received his PhD in Entomology from the University of Illinois in 2004, and was a top scientist with USDA-ARS for 11 years. His research and education programs focus on assessing the ecological risk of pest management strategies and developing long-term solutions for regenerative food systems.

Jan 20, 2021

Craig Rupp is the CEO and founder of Sabanto. Prior to founding Sabanto he was a cofounder of 640 Labs where FieldView Drive was originally created. The first part of today’s episode will be about Craig’s journey at 640 Labs and its eventual acquisition by Climate Corp. Despite all of these impressive innovations and industry game-changers, that’s not the only thing he joins us to share about today. His current project, Sabanto, is gaining momentum and continuing to develop its autonomous tractors. 

 

“In the last month, I was just amazed as to how mature our software is and how hands-off we have become. The little tractor that we use is very dependable and our software is very mature.” - Craig Rupp

 

The Sabanto tractors can participate in tillage, cultivation and tine weed and are one of the “hardest working tractors in the US” according to Craig. While initially they required intensive monitoring they have continued to develop and allow for more autonomy. By continuing to develop the technology and allowing Sabanto to take care of some procedures, farmers will be able to repurpose labor needs, expenses and focus on their own efficiency.  

 

“I think everyone’s waiting around to see what the industry brings them…..I wanted to bring autonomy into agriculture and I wanted to completely change the landscape of agriculture.” - Craig Rupp 

 

In conventional farming with large manual equipment, Craig feels that we have “peaked in horsepower” as an industry. While the previous objective for agricultural equipment was to cover as many acres as possible leading to larger equipment, now we see Sabanto prioritizing efficiency, ease of use, connectivity and decreased soil compaction. Craig looks forward to continuing to spread the use of autonomous tractors in more locations and on more operations.

 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Craig Rupp, founder and CEO of Sabanto
  • Learn about the journey and major successes Craig has experienced in his career with agriculture technology
  • Explore the many uses and value Sabanto can bring to a farming operation
  • Follow Sabanto at @sabantoag on Twitter

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. I’m sending out my email newsletter on a more regular basis, focusing on what I call the front lines of agtech: where product meets producer. You can sign up for that at www.FutureOfAg.com. There’s an email icon in the center of the page, just click on that and it will take you to a signup form.

Do you have suggestions for topics to be explored? Tweet them to me @timhammerich or email them to tim@aggrad.com

Find us online!

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

Jan 13, 2021

In recent years, the idea of farmers getting paid based on stewardship has really taken off. Whether that’s the discussion of companies paying for carbon sequestration, soil conservation, water quality or any other number of “ecosystem services”, it seems to be a trend that is not going away any time soon. But how much real demand is there for this vs. just marketing and PR? Obviously, we all want cleaner air and water, but who is lining up to pay for it to create the right incentives to make it happen? And, does this even scale?

Jason Weller is the Vice President of Truterra, LLC, the sustainability solutions business of Land O’Lakes Inc.. Many do not know that Land O’Lakes Inc. is one of the nation’s largest farmer-owned cooperatives. Before joining Truterra, Jason served as Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the nation’s largest working lands conservation organization. That makes him uniquely suited to talk about the role of both public and private sectors in this sustainability conversation.

 

“I was interested in coming to work for a company that was dreaming and thinking big. So Land O’Lakes was building a sustainability team….It felt like a once in a lifetime career opportunity to come work in agriculture for one of the largest farmer co-ops in the country who was thinking big and not just talking, but actually investing in building out the team to help farmers on a scale that's unprecedented. - Jason Weller

 

Truterra is the name of the business that represents the sustainability arm of Land O’Lakes. Jason highlights that this is a business division and not simply philanthropic. “I think what also frankly is energizing is trying to find that balance between ROI and good natural resource conservation.” So beyond promoting soil health and water conservation, they focus on making it profitable for producers and therefore enticing sustainability on a large scale. 

 

“Our job is to then not just dream big, but to then get tactical and think about how we weave sustainability into that huge enterprise? How do we bring solutions to those local regional retailer owners and individual farming operations that compliment their businesses but also start to address broader issues around soil health, around water quality, water availability and biodiversity?” - Jason Weller 

 

Truterra is blazing new trails in creating incentives, insights and expertise for producers with a goal of financial viability and improved sustainability practices. Jason admits that mandates are not easily accepted or embraced and so his goal is not to force farmers but help them in these efforts with “shared risk and shared opportunity.” The Truterra Insights Engine “connects public information and then private information that the farmer shares.” This information is then amalgamated with management information. This combination then gives farmers a platform to see what adjustments can be made on their operations and what the outcomes could be both financially and environmentally. It also allows them to monitor their progress in these efforts and share them with retailers to improve their value.

 

“We do view farmers as our customer, but we don't charge the farmer for access to the tool because it's really a decision support tool for the farmer. And we don't want cost to be a barrier to access to the information.” - Jason Weller

 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Jason Weller the Vice President of Truterra, LLC, the sustainability solutions business of Land O’Lakes Inc.
  • Explore the initiatives the Land O’Lakes Inc. cooperative are taking to promote sustainability and help producers
  • Learn about the new platform they are developing to support farmers and provide information to retailers

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. I’m sending out my email newsletter on a more regular basis, focusing on what I call the front lines of agtech: where product meets producer. You can sign up for that at www.FutureOfAg.com. There’s an email icon in the center of the page, just click on that and it will take you to a signup form.

Do you have suggestions for topics to be explored? Tweet them to me @timhammerich or email them to tim@aggrad.com

Find us online!

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

Jan 6, 2021

Today we are joined by Naeem Zafar. Naeem is a 7x serial entrepreneur and 5x CEO, with multiple successful exits. He is currently the co-founder and CEO of TeleSense, an IoT company creating real-time wireless sensing and predictive analytics for the stored grain industry. TeleSense is a portfolio company of Fulcrum Global Capital and adds to their story that we have had the privilege to share with you so far.

A lot of the attention has been paid to sensors in agronomy with soil, water, etc. But think about this with stored grain: every year we produce billions of bushels of corn, soybeans, and wheat, just in the U.S. alone. A lot of that is stored and handled multiple times: maybe in farm bins, in a local grain elevator, on a barge or rail car, at a processing facility, or export house where it goes on to further handling. So there are several opportunities for the grain quality to be affected, and a lot of current solutions of checking quality are still mostly manual: meaning sending someone up to look at and even smell the commodity. 

“Knowledge is king. When you know what's going on, you can make a sensible choice. That's what it all is about. Avoid the surprise.” - Naeem Zafar 

TeleSense has developed technology to monitor grain storage conditions and upload those findings to the cloud. This gives farmers the opportunity to adjust as needed for the conditions of the grain during storage reducing loss of product or quality. Naeem understands that “margins are thin” in the grain industry so his goal is to make it not just affordable but ultimately profitable for the producer. Their target is that the price should reflect approximately 2 cents per bushel which is recognized as a reasonable discount for a loss of quality making this technology more than feasible. “The data science and the alerts level will change based on the type (of grain), but the hardware is the same and the basic software is the same.” Alerts will be sent to the producers mobile device if a finding is a concern. You can access your data over time and at any instant on your desktop or mobile device. 

Phase 2 of their technology will be a device that creates a “smart bin” to collect the data, analyze conditions and make its own adjustments to rectify an issue if found. Beyond that, Naeem is looking forward to creating a reward for higher quality grains in general.

“So we are coming up with an index, a fine grain index, which will tell you what's the quality of the grain…..If you can do that, that opens up all kinds of interesting ideas.” Naeem Zafar

This value can expand into knowing which bin is best to sell and when. This also adds value to the extra effort you have put into the timing and storage of your grains. “It’s going to take a couple of years but that's the direction” TeleSense is headed towards. 

 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Naeem Zafar the co-founder and CEO of TeleSense
  • Explore the problem TeleSense solves for those in the grain industry
  • Learn about the technology they have developed and the advantages this can give producers
  • Hear about the entrepreneurial journey Naeem took to get where he is now as a CEO, co-founder and professor.

If you enjoyed that conversation with Naeem Zafar of TeleSense, check out their website at Telesense.com. Thanks as well to Fulcrum Global Capital who partnered with me on this episode. Learn more about Fulcrum at www.FGCVC.com

 

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. I’m sending out my email newsletter on a more regular basis, focusing on what I call the front lines of agtech: where product meets producer. You can sign up for that at www.FutureOfAg.com. There’s an email icon in the center of the page, just click on that and it will take you to a signup form.

Do you have suggestions for topics to be explored? Tweet them to me @timhammerich or email them to tim@aggrad.com

Find us online!

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

Dec 30, 2020

Around the new year I like to reflect on previous episodes and pull out insights that I think are important for the future of agriculture. 

As I reflected on the content from this past year, an insight became immediately clear: agtech has a long way to go. As much as we talk about the money that has poured into the industry and how much potential there is for the future of agriculture, progress has been, by most measures, slow. And change - in a lot of cases - has been minimal. This isn’t an indictment on anyone in the industry, instead it’s a statement that we all probably don’t say often enough: innovation is hard. 

There are some real forces working against the advancement of agricultural innovation. Today’s episode explores these barriers that are holding back the entire sector and profiles companies that are directly addressing and trying to eliminate those barriers. Loyal listeners know that I love this idea of enabling technologies. Which is to say, breakthroughs that open the floodgates for numerous future breakthroughs. The stories you’ll hear today are examples of companies trying to create something that enables future innovation. In some cases, with their technology, in others: with their business model. 

Here are the five barriers holding agtech back: 

  1. Too much risk being put on the buyer (in most cases, the producer)
  2. Limited rural Connectivity
  3. Lack of integrations between ag technologies
  4. Scarcity of precision-first implementation equipment
  5. Inability to find product-market fit

*LISTEN TO THE EPISODE FOR TWO ADDITIONAL BARRIERS*

Companies featured: 

Growers Edge www.growersedge.com

SWARM https://swarm.space/

Leaf https://withleaf.io/

Rantizo https://rantizo.com/

In10t https://in10t.ag/ 

Dec 23, 2020

Check out another great ag podcast: www.OffIncome.com.

Today’s episode is really one of those that I think embodies my vision for this show. It’s the vision you just heard me reference: where we take innovative ideas, in this case artificial intelligence, and we look at the point in which the meet practical realities. 

The reason this is so important to me, is: first, it’s so much easier to learn and understand new technologies by observing their use cases. And secondly, I am convinced this intersection is really the best hope we have for getting a glimpse into the future of agriculture. 

We have on the show Craig Ganssle, the founder and CEO of Farmwave:  an agriculture technology company that is transforming the world’s agricultural information into AI data models that power decision-making and preserve the future of farming. In this episode you’ll hear how Google Glass originally led Craig to agriculture, how artificial intelligence works and how it’s applied to a variety of use cases, from predicting the weight of livestock to identifying crop diseases to minimizing yield loss off a combine.  

Learn more about Farmwave: www.Farmwave.io

Follow Farmwave on Twitter: https://twitter.com/farmwave

 

Join the FoA Community: www.patreon.com/agriculture 

Dec 16, 2020

One of the biggest criticisms of ag tech and really many ag innovations in general is they often seem to be a solution that is looking for a problem rather than the alternative. This mismatch is often doomed to fail leaving many ag entrepreneurs frustrated. The Beef Alliance is trying to change that in the cattle feeding industry through their program called Feeding Innovation, a Beef Alliance Startup Challenge. The Beef Alliance wants smart entrepreneurial, problem solvers to see real potential opportunity and apply their talents to the cattle feeding industry. They're putting up $50,000 in the form of a cash prize and the chance at a pilot project to the winning startup of the competition. So even for startups that don't win that top prize and chance to pilot, it's still an opportunity to engage with leaders throughout the cattle feeding industry who could end up potentially becoming customers and investors.

**Learn more about the startup challenge: https://beefalliance.com/startupchallenge/

The Beef Alliance is an organization of innovative, progressive, and relevant cattle feeding companies through collaborative innovation, scientific exploration, and value chain engagement. They are committed to being a leader and catalyst for positive change in the beef supply chain. Today we are joined by Dr. Abram Babcock, who is the CEO of Adams Land and Cattle in Broken Bow, Nebraska and John Wilson, a fifth generation Oregon cattleman and managing partner of several cattle related businesses. Both men clearly have extensive experience in the cattle feeding industry and share their perspectives of new innovations.

 

“If I look at it back in the early nineties and I look at it today, I would say that our industry has definitely adapted to listening to the consumer, as opposed to telling the consumer what we wanted them to hear or what we wanted them to eat. That would probably be at the top of my list.” - John Wilson

 

Dr. Babcock goes on to reference different management techniques, pharmaceutical protocols, and feeding practices all as a response to consumer demands.  John highlights advances in sensors and therefore different use and evaluation of individual metrics to better support sustainability practices like water usage and electricity usage. 

 

“I think there is going to be an ability for our industry to really start to tell our story with data in a very cost-effective efficient manner where, you know, 10 years ago, some of these metrics would be very hard or very expensive to collect on a daily basis.” - Dr. Abram Babcock

 

Both John and Dr. Babcock ask innovators to keep in mind that cattle are living beings that are affected by health, weather and production system techniques. Their production is not as simple as creating a formula and producing a consistent product. While that seems obvious it is often overlooked by those not familiar with the industry. Labor efficiency, automation and improvement of feed conversion are all sectors that they highlight are in need of innovation in the industry. 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet John Wilson and Dr. Abram Babcock, both experienced cattlemen that join us today to share what innovation has done and hopefully will do in the cattle feeding industry
  • Learn about the technology that most interests these two experts
  • Explore what innovators can focus on to support the cattle feeding industry’s efforts 

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.

We’re nearing the end of 2020 and I’m planning my 2021 content. Do you have suggestions for topics to be explored? Tweet them to me @timhammerich or email them to tim@aggrad.com

Find us online!

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

Dec 9, 2020

Victory Farms is a Tilapia farming operation on Lake Victoria in Kenya. Since it was founded in 2015 it has become the largest fish farm in East Africa and is now the fastest growing Tilapia Farm in all of Africa. Joseph Rehmann is the CEO and founder of Victoria Farms and joins us today to share his journey towards becoming an innovative entrepreneur in Kenya with an environmentally sustainable aquaculture operation. 

 

“It really felt like an opportunity to be where I wanted to be, in a field that I’m passionate about which is growing things and being able to have a meaningful impact from the work I do.” - Joseph Rehmann

 

Joseph observed that while Africa’s population is booming the development of local food sources was decreasing resulting in an increased dependence on imported food. He discusses the supply and demand mismatch that he was able to find a market in to not only build his business but help local populations.

 

“You've got 200 or 300 million people in the East African block and you've got this substantial decline in wild stocks of fish, a relative decline in per capita consumption of white proteins…..This region is sitting on what some folks call the African great lakes....So Lake Victoria is the largest warm freshwater body in the world. And it's not farmed.” - Joseph Rehmann

 

With access to one of the best natural resources for farming Tilapia, Victory Farms is now producing 300 tons of fish per year. Joseph highlights that Tilapia are native to the area and local cultures. Victory Farms utilizes local customs to then get the fish to their customers. Once the fish are prepared, they are then transported to 40 different locations and sold to about 10,000 market ladies per month. The market ladies then make the sale to the end customer in the community. By supporting the market ladies and promoting their business models, they have found great success and community compatibility. Beyond financial and cultural success, Joseph has also focused on supporting and promoting the local environment. 

 

“I think the next generation of businesses needs to stop talking about doing less harm to the environment or mitigation or conservation. And we need to flip it to restoration. Businesses need to actually promote environmental benefits.” - Joseph Rehmann

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Joseph Rehmann, CEO and founder of Victory Farms
  • Explore the emerging Tilapia market in East Africa
  • Discover the obstacles and challenges he has faced and the factors he attributes his success to
  • Learn about the mission of Victory Farms, their management practices and sustainability focus

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.

We’re nearing the end of 2020 and I’m planning my 2021 content. Do you have suggestions for topics to be explored? Tweet them to me @timhammerich or email them to tim@aggrad.com

Find us online!

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

Dec 2, 2020

This is the series finale of exploring agtech adoption with In10t. Co-founder and COO Kevin Heikes joins as co-host to setup this episode which features Josh Miller and Elizabeth Blessum from BASF. 

Make sure you listen to the other three episodes in the series: 

  • FoA 226: The Problem with Farm Data
  • FoA 215: Bridging the Gap Between Farmers and Agtech
  • FoA 194: Accelerating Agtech

Kevin reflects on the journey of founding In10t and what we’ve covered in these episodes as well as in his first two Future of Agriculture appearances on FoA 028 and 062.

“When technology gets in the way of innovation, no one is happy.” - Kevin Heikes

Josh Miller is a technical market manager for plant health at BASF. He describes the thousands of farmer trials that have been a part of bringing their Revysol brand fungicides to the market. He emphasizes the importance of trust and transparency when performing on-farm trials. 

“I think (on-farm trials) is becoming part of our DNA. It’s not just about the data. It’s about the experience, and it’s about where the data comes from. That’s really the critical part.” - Josh Miller

Elizabeth Blessum worked with Josh on the Revex platform (short for “Revysol experience”) as part of her professional development program at BASF. She is now an Agronomic Solutions Advisor with the company. 

“I think it comes down to believability. I’m a visual learner - I like to see things myself. So I have better luck selling a product that I believe in, and that I’ve been able to see in the field...being able to see things first hand has helped myself believe, and then ultimately help other believe in the product as well.” - Elizabeth Blessum

Josh also emphasized the importance of not only data transparency, but also data privacy. Knowing how to handle this with integrity is of the utmost importance in the trialing process. 

“Farmers have their factories out in the public domain. Everything they do is proprietary to some degree: what products they choose, what seed varieties they choose, how they do things. And it’s all out there. And I think that it can’t be taken for granted if a farmer shares that data with you. That’s a huge amount of IP that they’ve shared with us, and we need to treat it with the respect that it deserves.” - Josh Miller

Be sure to visit In10t at www.In10t.ag and www.FarmerTrials.com

Please also thank them on social media for their efforts to make this important series happen. I would have never had access to people like Josh, Elizabeth, or any of the other guests on previous episodes without In10t’s support! 

Nov 25, 2020

Back by popular demand is guest co-host Janette Barnard. She co-hosted on episode 225 about direct-to-consumer meat, and is back today with Lamar Steiger, a consultant who is helping Walmart rethink their beef supply chain. They’re doing some really innovative stuff trying to improve quality and create shared value.

Janette is the author of Prime Future, a weekly newsletter about trends in the animal protein value chain, and she’s the managing principal of Rock Road Consulting helping companies launch, source, and fund innovation. She’s also just a great friend and my go-to source on all things animal agriculture. 

Also on this episode is a startup spotlight featuring Ceres Tag. 

Join the FoA Community: www.Patreon.com/agriculture

Nov 18, 2020

Visit another great podcast: www.OffIncome.com

Are agtech and regenerative agriculture at odds? Regenerative is committed to working WITH nature, and agtech is often trying to manipulate nature in some way. Agtech is often automating and trying to displace human capital, when regenerative is often trying to bring people back to the land. Agtech often includes buying new hardware or paying a monthly as a service fee, when regenerative is trying to rely as much as possible on what can be generated and then regenerated from the land itself. Those are the ideas that were floating around in my head when I decided to put together this episode.

Probably the best part of doing this podcast is getting to hear from those of you listening. A few months ago I got an email from a listener politely asking that I feature more European stories on the show, particularly something from Switzerland or Germany. I wrote back and asked what topics he thought listeners would find most interesting in that area, and he responded maybe something in either agtech or regenerative agriculture. 

That listener’s name is Max Weitz, and he recommended a friend of his to be on the show, Benedikt Bosel. After hearing more about both of their backgrounds, I invited both of them to be on the show. I’ll tell you why and what this has to do with my thoughts on agtech and regenerative in just a moment. 

Join the FoA Community: www.Patreon.com/agriculture

Nov 11, 2020

Visit our sponsor: www.OffIncome.com. 

Today’s episode is a great example of true agricultural innovation. Most of you know our food system is heavily dependent on chemical fertilizers to efficiently get nutrients, especially nitrogen to most of our crops. However, some of those crops, think legumes like soybeans, pulses, and peanuts, have a symbiotic relationship with fungi that enable nitrogen fixation from the air and make it available for the plant. 

Today’s guest asked the question, what if we could make this happen on all crops? Especially on corn, wheat, and rice, which together make up a significant chunk of the chemical nitrogen consumption. We have on the show Karsten Temme, CEO and co-founder of Pivot Bio. Pivot’s first product, Proven, is a microbe that when applied to corn can allow the plant to have a similar symbiotic relationship to, in a way, fix it’s own nitrogen from the air. If this is sounding familiar, it’s probably because we had Pivot Bio’s Director of Agronomy on episode 215, talking about the gap between farmers and agtech.

Almost a decade ago, he started Pivot Bio with co-founder Alvin Tamsir. In this conversation we dig into how their technology works, why it’s significant, and how synthetic biology in general could impact the future of agriculture. I’ll drop you into the conversation where Karsten is describing the why behind Pivot Bio. 

 

**JOIN THE FoA COMMUNITY: www.Patreon.com/agriculture

Nov 4, 2020

“We’re going to bring a lot of new, interesting, innovations leapfrogging across the world.” - Francisco Jardim

 

Today we explore an international agtech powerhouse, Brazil. And we have the perfect guest to talk about the developing agtech ecosystem in the country, Francisco Jardim. Francisco is the Founding Partner at SP Ventures which invests across multiple industries, but as you’ll hear, he has particular expertise in agtech. Francisco has been investing with SP Ventures for over 13 years, and focuses on Brazilian startups.

 

“We’re leveraging technology, new digital technology, to be able to make less friction, less costs for farmers to be able to empower themselves through the use of their data and access more sophisticated financial services products.” - Francisco Jardim

 

Historically, mainstream multinational ag companies have used fairs and large sales teams to expose farmers to new technologies. Francisco shares that by virtue of the spread of connectivity and digital technologies, farmers are more open to new technologies without following the formerly used labor intensive method of selling. Start up companies are poised to employ strategies that don’t involve a lot of people or a large marketing budget and that lend themselves to be more covid friendly. Preconceptions of farming operations being innately archaic and resistant to digital technology are quickly being proven wrong with ever-expanding digital connectivity.

 

“We’re seeing the grandfather become a heavy smartphone user. We’re seeing the father become a very hardcore ambassador of new digital technologies and the son of course. What’s beautiful is these new technologies, they’re bridging the gap between the grandfather, the father and the son in the family business....it’s becoming transgenerational and even generational integrative as a function.” - Francisco Jardim

 

For new startups, Francisco recommends prioritizing extensive testing and identifying that you have “positive unit economics.” By focusing on these two priorities you avoid wasting a lot of money and generating “negative repercussions from your customers” while you troubleshoot your product. He also recommends paying attention to specific buying windows (planting, seeding, harvesting, etc.) to know when is the best time to reach out to the producers and what timing will provide them with the most benefit. 

 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Francisco Jardim, the Founding Partner at SP Ventures based in Brazil
  • Explore the journey agtech startups are taking in South America and how they have found their niche during these Covid times
  • Learn Francisco’s recommendations to becoming a successful startup

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.

We’re nearing the end of 2020 and I’m planning my 2021 content. Do you have suggestions for topics to be explored? Tweet them to me @timhammerich or email them to tim@aggrad.com

Find us online!

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

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

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