The integration of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) with agricultural machinery catalyzed the digitization of farms in the early 2000s, enabling farmers to visualize yield variation within their fields. Since then, the definition of digital ag has evolved to include features beyond just basic yield mapping, such as variable rate prescriptions, irrigation guidance, seed variety benchmarks, and pest outbreak alerts. Decision support features abound, but the present state of the industry is fragmented. Most developers are start-ups who provide one aspect of decision support, and their solutions work in silos alienated from the rest of farm operations. Continue reading
Monsanto Growth Ventures (MGV) announced its first investment portfolio on January 6, 2016. MGV, the venture capital arm of Monsanto, has committed to significant relationships with several companies over the last three years. Steve Padgette, VP of research and development (R&D) strategy, said that the group utilizes three avenues to form relationships with companies: R&D deals, equity investments, and acquisitions. MGV expressed that it seeks companies working in areas related to RNA platforms, seed treatments, microbial and biological treatments, genotyping technologies, and novel crop traits. The group also invested heavily in companies developing precision agriculture solutions, including analytics, data storage and cloud technologies, robotics, and image analysis. MGV has formed relationships with 11 companies in its first portfolio of investments, several of which Lux Research has spoken with.