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Ag Tech Updates

As population growth increases the need to ramp up food production, tech startups are creating a range of agricultural software, services, farming techniques, and more aimed at bringing more data and efficiency to the sector.

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As population growth increases the need to ramp up food production, tech startups are creating a range of agricultural software, services, farming techniques, and more aimed at bringing more data and efficiency to the sector.

There are some very cool things happening, and here is a snapshot of what CB Insights found:

  • Farm Management Software: This includes software like that produced by Andreessen Horowitz-backed Granular that allows farmers to more efficiently manage their resources, crop production, farm animals, etc.
  • Precision Agriculture and Predictive Data Analytics: These startups include those that focus on using big data and predictive analytics to address farm-related issues and make better farm-related decisions in order to save energy, increase efficiency, optimize herbicide and pesticide application (such as Prospera, which uses machine vision and artificial intelligence), and manage risk, among other uses.
  • Sensors: Startups in the sensor category include Arable, which offers smart sensors that collect data and help farmers monitor crop health, weather, and soil quality.
  • Animal Data: These companies provide software and hardware specifically aimed at better understanding livestock, from breeding patterns (Connecterra) to genomics (TL Biolabs).
  • Robotics and Drones: This category includes drone companies and related drone services that cater to agricultural needs (such as TerrAvion), as well as robots or intelligent farm machines that perform various farm functions more efficiently (such as Blue River Technology, backed by Monsanto Growth Ventures, Syngenta Ventures, and Khosla Ventures, among others).
  • Smart Irrigation: These startups, including Hortau, provide systems that help monitor and automate water usage for farms using various data exhausts.
  • Next Gen Farms: A growing category of companies that utilize technology to provide alternative farming methods to enable farming in locations and settings that cannot support traditional farming. Examples include AeroFarms for vertical farming and BrightFarms for new greenhouses.
  • Marketplaces: These startups offer marketplaces relevant to agriculture by connecting farmers directly to suppliers or consumers without any middlemen. While some are e-commerce platforms, others use tech to facilitate physical marketplaces (La Ruche Qui Dit Oui).

Read the original article here.

How the Clean Air Act affects agriculture

Most agricultural operations are not major sources of pollution, and few have been required to comply with the Act’s requirements. However, agricultural air pollution has become more of an issue as EPA implements NAAQS for particulates and as nonattainment areas looks for ways to reduce pollutants. 

Emissions from animal feeding operations, such as ammonia, can transform into secondary particulate matter that would violate the NAAQS. Other agriculture pollutants include dust stirred from operations, diesel emissions from farm equipment, and emissions from crop burning.  

See the full story from my alma matter here. 

What will the USDA appointment look like?

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has yet to name an appointee to lead the USDA.

Some committee members told Reuters they have had meetings with Trump and his advisers, and have suggested possible nominees to help define the type of person who should lead the department.

Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue is Trump’s leading candidate to run the department, a senior Trump transition team official said last week.

Read the full Reuters article here.

Cattlemen: Kicked in the teeth?

In 2016, Oklahoma ranked #2 in the nation for beef cattle with 1.95 million head of cattle. Livestock, including beef cattle, is one of Oklahoma’s major exports. It accounts for over $300M annually and 114,000 jobs in livestock production and processing. That is to say, it’s a big deal.

In 2016, Oklahoma ranked #2 in the nation for beef cattle with 1.95 million head of cattle. Livestock, including beef cattle, is one of Oklahoma’s major exports. It accounts for over $300M annually and 114,000 jobs in livestock production and processing. That is to say, it’s a big deal.

That’s why I’m always glad to see issues important to our livestock producers in the news. Recently, Tomi Lahren posted a “Final Thoughts” segment highlighting some changes in the economics our cattlemen and ranchers are facing.  Continue reading “Cattlemen: Kicked in the teeth?”

What Would a Modern-Day Dust Bowl Look Like?

We’re Just As Vulnerable To A Dust Bowl Drought As We Were In The 1930s.

Dan Nosowitz writing for Modern Farmer poses the following scenario: We’re Just As Vulnerable To A Dust Bowl Drought As We Were In The 1930s.

Researchers at the University of Chicago have shown that a dust-bowl-style drought could still be disastrous today, despite what we’ve learned from history. But why? Because most advances have been to increase crop yield instead of withstanding drought conditions.

One can only imagine the barrage of legal issues that would be repeated if we saw another dust bowl. From the fallout of plummeting real estate prices – foreclosures, and bankruptcies, to the challenges of what to do with the refugees (which led to an ACLU lawsuit for illegal practices of blocking migrants in the 1930s).

Let’s hope the farm industry stays ahead of changing climate concerns.

See the original article here.

Year in Review – 2016 Farm Crime

2016 has been a year, to say the least. Andrew Amelinckx, writing for Modern Farmer, has put together a round-up of some of the oddest farm crime news that happened this year. The list included:

  • A Texas Cattle thief who got a Texas-sized sentence;
  • Big League Cheese Theft;
  • Chicken-napping;
  • Maple Syrup Nabbed;
  • Marijuana Crops Stolen (almost);
  • Social Media Neighborhood Watch;
  • Giant Bunny (20-lbs!) Stolen; and
  • Murder After Pesticides Damage Crops!

You can find the original article here.

How Do We Plan For Shrinking Cropland?

By 2030, urban expansion could start to seriously affect farm productivity worldwide.

The family farm is not only the family heritage. Often it is the family business. When taken together, the assets and income potential for family farms may make any given family farm a multi-million dollar going concern.

Emma Bryce of the Guardian reports that by 2030, urban expansion could start to seriously affect farm productivity worldwide. Serious businesses will consider how to plan around this trend.

Read the full article here.