Ag Industry Brief: Verizon Announces New Ag IoT Partnerships, Rootility Hires Ex-Syngenta Exec, more

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Verizon Announces New Ag IoT Partnerships with CA Vineyards

Verizon is deploying its agriculture IoT service on three new Californian vineyards: Delicato Family Vineyards, Scheid Vineyards, and Renteria Vineyard Management. It’s also working with The Chef’s Garden to improve precision farming and to maximize crop growth. The vineyards will use the ITK-driven data analytics service to improve its planning, Irrigation management, and sustainability programs, according to a press release. The new partnerships follow the announcement of its plan to launch an IoT and decision support product for permanent crop farmers.


Former Senior Syngenta Exec Joins Rootility Board of Directors

Rootility, a Tel Aviv-based root-focused plant breeding company, has added seed industry executive Andre Goig to its Board of Directors. Mr. Goig brings a wealth of experience in the global seeds industry to Rootility. He most recently served as the regional head of Europe, Africa and the Middle East at Syngenta, where he led Syngenta’s $4 billion Agrochemical and Seed activities businesses. From 2004 to 2010, he also served as the global head of vegetable seeds. Prior to that, Mr. Goig was appointed to leadership roles at legacy Syngenta companies, including Novartis Seeds and Sandoz Agro. Rootility has developed a non-GMO breeding selection system designed to help the company breed better root systems that greatly enhance crop yields.

Grownetics and Shift Cannabis Announce Partnership

Boulder-based indoor agriculture optimization platform provider Grownetics and fellow Boulder-based consulting firm Shift Cannabis have joined forces. Shift Cannabis will incorporate the Grownetics system into its own R&D facilities, and recommend clients do the same. Grownetics is a fast-moving startup, breaking $400k within its first year of incorporating and projecting to break $1 million by January according to the company. Grownetics is currently developing machine-learning algorithms based on the massive amounts of data they collect from cultivators. Grownetics hopes this technology will bring artificial intelligence to the work of agriculture technology and cannabis cultivation within the next year.

Arcadia Biosciences Hires Former Cesca CEO as CFO

Davis-based agricultural technology company Arcadia Biosciences has announced Matthew Plavan, a former CEO of Rancho Cordova-based Cesca Therapeutics, as its new chief financial officer. Plavan had worked from 2005 through 2014 at Cesca Therapeutics, a developer of cell storage and regenerative therapy technology. He served as CEO during the last three years of his tenure with the company and also served as chief financial officer at Cesca and as interim CEO. Arcadia Biosciences develops genetically modified food crops for increased efficiency and improved environmental sustainability.

REDAG Crop Protection Company Appoints Non-Exec Director

REDAG Crop Protection, an agrochemicals company, has appointed Dr. Deborah Keith as a non-executive director. Dr. Keith spent 15 years with Syngenta, where for three years she was head of global R&D external collaborations. Before that she headed the Syngenta crop protection research portfolio, leading R&D strategy development and organizational change. Dr. Keith, who has a PhD in plant genetics, has more than 30 years’ experience in the science and technology sector, including academic research in plant genetics and in international development in Bhutan. She is currently a non-executive director the Aerospace Technology Institute and the James Hutton Institute, and Council member of the BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council), University of Warwick and the John Innes Centre.


DSM & NCN Accepting Applications from Entrepreneurs for an Innovation & Partnering Conference

Royal DSM, a global science-based company active in health, nutrition, and materials, and Nutrition Capital Network, are now accepting applications from entrepreneurs and innovators to present at an innovation conference on November 1-3, 2016 at DSM’s North American headquarters in Parsippany, New Jersey. This conference offers entrepreneurs unique insights into how corporate innovation and venturing organizations evaluate and work with startups, and the opportunity to seek investment or a strategic partnership with a global leader in food, supplement and persona care ingredients.

Western Growers Opens Agtech Innovation Competition

Farmer cooperative Western Growers has launched its second annual Innovation Arena Competition, offering six agtech startups a chance to compete for two winning prizes. The winners will also have the chance to meet some big name ag businesses. Applications are now open and will be accepted until September 29, 2016. To participate, applicants must be qualified start-up companies that are innovating agtech solutions to solve issues such as labor availability, water scarcity, water quality, food safety, planning/optimization, big data and compliance cost. Applicants who are chosen will compete during the Innovation Arena at the 91st Western Growers Annual Meeting on November 8, 2016, in Hawaii. 

Agtech Companies Sweep Aussie iAwards Innovation Competition inc Startup of the Year

Two agtech companies took top honors at this week’s iAwards, an innovation competition with over 600 entries across Australia. AgriWebb, a farm management software company, and Automated, a livestock medicine dosing and administration platform, took home four of the top awards, including Startup of the Year for AgriWebb and the Industrial and Primary Industries Award for Automated. AgriWebb won a Merit Award in the same category.


USDA Awards $33.4m in Grants to Ag Innovation Initiatives

Under two separate schemes, the USDA has awarded 121 grants to small businesses and investment firms around the country. Some $7.4 million was awarded to businesses for research related to food security, natural resources, and agricultural issues. The grants were made through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and included an agtech company based in Illinois called Hazel Technologies. The startup is working to reduce food waste by developing materials that inhibit ethylene gas, a hormone that plants produce as they age, in a wider variety of plants and later in the supply chain than is typically done currently. The remaining $26 million was awarded to support innovation in agriculture and included an investment in Iroquois Valley Farms, a farmland fund manager using regenerative farming practices, and Encourage Capital, a conservation finance investment manager.

Secretary Vilsack Addresses the USDA Advisory Committee on Biotech and 21st Century Ag

On Thursday, US Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack addressed the agency’s Advisory Committee on Biotech and 21st Century Ag, better known as the AC21. The group has assembled to work on a report advocating for farmers to work more collaboratively to prevent cross contamination among crops. Formed in 2011, the panel is intended to help the agency develop recommendations for farmers to improve working relationships with neighbors who cultivate non-GM crops.

Other News That’s Fit to Chew:

– Could the new GMO labeling law lead to more food transparency? Mark Bittman examines for the Genetic Literacy Project.

– The National Fisheries Institute is calling foul over a report from Oceana concluding that 19 percent of seafood in the world is mislabeled, on

– Major grocery retail chain Kroger’s is debuting a store-brand line of cage-free eggs, on FoodDIVE.

– The 49ers Santa Clara home, Levi’s Stadium, now features a rooftop farm, on CNN.

– Find out where the first commercial farm in a residential development recently launched, on Modern Farmer.

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