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Ag Industry Brief: Pessl Partners with Huawei on IoT for Ag, Olam Deploys Phytech, IntelinAir Adds New CoFounder, more

November 18, 2016

PessI Instruments & Huawei Partner to Develop IoT-Based Farming Solutions

Austrian agriculture sensor company Pessl Instruments has partnered with Chinese mobile technology company Huawei to develop new products focused on capturing the “narrow-band Internet of Things” (NB-IoT). The products will debut during mid-2017 using a newly-created 3GPP standard to connect remote weather stations, soil moistures sensors, and many other devices with the internet. The duo hopes to offer farmers around the world with connectivity to their fields for the timely application of plant protection products, when to spread fertilizers, when to seed and plough, when to harvest and many other smart applications. Huawei and Pessl Instruments will showcase this technology the first time at one of the largest agriculture shows in Europe, EIMA, according to a statement.

Olam Deploys Phytech’s ‘FitBit for Crops’ in Australia

Olam, the Singapore agribusiness giant, has adopted startup Phytech’s ‘fitbit for crops’ at five of its orchards in the Sunraysia and Riverina regions of Australia. The total Olam area covered by the service for the 2016/17 season now exceeds 5k hectares, with a mixture of mature and new plantings. The deployment follows successful trials with the technology across 700 hectares during the previous season that resulted in increased growth rates and higher yields while reducing water usage. Phytech is an ag analytics company focused on helping farmers understand plant health and needs consisting of sensor hardware, installed in the field, and predictive algorithms that are combined to form a subscription service model. The startup closed an undisclosed Series A round in January with Syngenta Ventures and Mitsui Co Europe.

IntelinAir Adds Computer Vision Expert as CoFounder

Aerial imagery agtech startup IntelinAir has added Dr. Ara Nefian, an expert in the areas of computer vision, machine learning, and robotics, as co-founder and chief technology officer. Dr. Nefian will direct all research and development activities for the company. Additionally, VMWare veteran David Wilson has come on board as VP of web and cloud engineering, responsible for leading efforts to integrate and deliver industrial-strength ultra-high-volume image processing and data analytics. Wilson is a software architect with 25 years of experience and a strong track record of delivering solutions to the unique challenges facing tech startup companies.

Investor Coalition Against Antibiotic Use in Food Companies Records Success

For World Antibiotic Awareness Week, a $1.3 trillion investor group, led by the FAIRR (Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return) Initiative, has reported that it is making progress with large food companies and raising awareness of antibiotics in their supply chains. Last month the group threw its support behind plant-based meat alternatives and is targeting companies such as McDonald’s, UK pub group JD Wetherspoon, and Domino’s Pizza. Some points of progress include The Restaurant Group’s commitment to phasing out the routine, preventative use of antibiotics in their supply chain and McDonald’s public commitment not to source chickens raised with antibiotics that are important to human medicine in the US. The fast food chain has also announced a ban on the use of the most critically important antibiotics for human medicine in its European chicken supply chain. FAIRR has also launched a brief called “Superbugs and Super Risks” that highlights the risks and opportunities around antibiotics and farming.

AgLaunch Showcases 6 Startup Companies

AgLaunch, a joint initiative of Memphis Bioworks Foundation and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, hosted two Demo Day and Innovation Forums this week showcasing six startup companies that have participated in programming coordinated through the AgLaunch network. Four of the six presenting companies have received a $50k investment and are completing a 90-day boot camp acceleration process led by Ag Innovation Development Group (AgIDG) and the acceleration experts at Start Co. The events took place on November 14 in Nashville and November 17 in Memphis.

Inovisa Launches CropUP Initiative for 2017

INOVISA, a Portuguese innovation organization linked to the University of Lisbon, has launched a new program where entrepreneurs and startups will have a chance to develop their products and services targeting the agrifood and forestry sectors. Named cropUP, the program will help entrepreneurs with multiple aspects of launching a startup, including validation, R&D, industry connections, and investor contacts. In addition to these services, entrepreneurs and startups will have the possibility to gain access to incubation space, coworking and shared facilities at INOVISA’s headquarters in the heart of Lisbon. The applications are open from October 24, 2016, to November 25, 2016.

Five More Cities Pass Soda Tax Measures

Five cities in the US have joined the ranks of Philadelphia and Berkeley, CA in the soda tax trend. Voters in San Francisco, Albany, Oakland, and Boulder passed measures that will tax nonalcoholic drinks containing caloric sweeteners at a penny-per-ounce rate. Boulder upped the ante, passing a measure that imposes a 2-cents-per-ounce tax. According to Marketwatch, the penny-per-ounce tax could raise the price of soft drinks as much as 20 percent if the industry passes along the tax to the consumer.

Other News That’s Fit to Chew

  • Dean Foods and Organic Valley have formed a new strategic growth partnership, on Food Business News.
  • The merger between John Deere and Precision Planting just hit a roadblock, on Successful Farming.
  • Chinese scientists have used CRISPR gene editing technology on a human for the first time, on TechCrunch.
  • The National Organic Standards Board, which regulates the federal Certified Organic program, is meeting this week to discuss many key issues including whether hydroponics should be included in the program, on Food Safety News.

Image credit: Pessl Instruments

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