The Ag Innovation Showcase brought together leading crop science companies, investors and promising start-ups earlier this week in St. Louis. I spoke on the “Future of Farming” with Philippe Herve of Bayer CropScience, Brook Porter from Kleiner Perkins, and John Sorenson of Vestaron.
The highlighted leading edge innovations that are bringing big data, microbial pesticides, and advanced sensors to growers in the US.
Vestaron is one of the rising stars in a new class of biological pest control products. Working with peptides from spider venom, the company has developed pesticides that are innocuous to mammals and break down easily after being applied. It just received USEPA approval and closed a $10 M investment round.
-Big Data: Fresno-based OnFarm integrates field data, weather and imaging data on a cloud-based dashboard for farmers that they can use from their iPhones in the field. It provides field specific analytics, forecasts, and recommendations to plan, manage, and control their field operations. http://www.onfarm.com
A vibrant group of start-ups are developing tools to track critical factors. Adapt-N is a tool uses a well-calibrated computer model, high resolution precipitation and temperature data, and soil, crop and management information to generate nitrogen application recommendations for crops. Hydrobio is developing sophisticated satellite image-driven analytics to manage water and increase crop yields– from scheduling sprinkler watering systems to optimizing sun penetration through the corn plant canopy.
Most important, start-ups and agribusiness leaders were outnumbered by investors. A diverse international crowd of private equity and early-stage investors, from New Zealand, Australia and Israel and throughout the US were a strong indicator that advances in biotech, bio manufacturing and big data are going to reshape farming.