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EXCLUSIVE: Canadian telecoms giant Telus acquires Decisive Farming

December 19, 2019

Telus, the Canadian telecommunications company, has acquired Canadian farmtech startup Decisive Farming, AFN can reveal.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed but Remi Schmaltz, CEO of Decisive Farming, confirmed the transaction.

“Yes, Decisive Farming has joined the TELUS family. TELUS is making a commitment to help the industry that our food system is built on. They believe strongly in business having a social purpose. They aren’t just a telecom company, they know technology and how to bring solutions together in new ways, making things easier while leveraging the power of information. We remain committed to bringing farmers new solutions that help them collaborate, make timely decisions and achieve improved profitability. The entire Decisive team, including Tasha, Garth, and Rémi, are excited to join TELUS and share more information in the near future,” he wrote in an email to AFN.

Schmaltz, a regular contributor to AFN and a fourth-generation agribusiness owner, founded the startup in 2011 after he started incubating technologies at the family ag retail company Dynagra Corp with his brother. The startup’s main investors are McRock Capital and Export Development Canada, which both invested at Series A in 2016 and more recently in its Series B this summer.

Decisive Farming combines precision agronomics, crop marketing, and information management services to give farmers a single platform from which to operate their business. The company describes its platform as offering farmers increased profitability, sustainability, and ease-of-use. The complete solution covers the three core farm functions; Farm Management to improve performance, Precision Agronomy to increase yield and Crop Marketing to grow farmer revenue. Decisive Farming’s platform currently has over 5 million acres representing 1.5 billion in annual production and is being used on forty different crop types in North America.

Decisive Farming sources data from a variety of places, including satellite imagery and other remote sensors. It also collaborates with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to integrate their equipment with Decisive Farming’s platform. Partners include John Deere, and Case New Holland. My Farm Manager also integrates market pricing feeds so that growers can track their margins in near real-time.

Telus was not available for comment but this is not its first foray into agtech; earlier this year it acquired Farm at Hand, a farm management software for tracking farm inventory and managing field records, and it invested in UK drone imagery analytics startup Hummingbird Tech as part of its Series B. Sources say the company is pursuing a buy-and-build agtech strategy.

It’s also joined forces with Microsoft and IBM in 2018 to back the $250 million Smart Agri-Food Super Cluster aimed at better using agriculture data to spur economic growth. And a key aim of its $16 billion investment into fiber-optic broadband for the Canadian state of Alberta announced earlier this year is to support agtech applications on the farm.

Chris Terris, VP of strategy, with TELUS Business Solutions, told RealAgriculture over the summer: “We’re always looking at emerging areas where we can leverage data and technology to spur innovation, help organizations be more productive, and improve the lives of Canadians.”

Telus is building its rural and agtech business under the direction of Todd Ormann, a former Syngenta executive and VP of Agriculture at United Farmers of Alberta, one of Canada’s largest and most influential agricultural cooperatives, as well as a former employee of another Canadian startup Farmers Edge. Its current agriculture telecoms offering provides low power, wide-area broadband connectivity on the farm. What is says is a low-cost service, it provides “extended coverage over the entire farm area, using low power technology.”

*Stay tuned for more updates to this story as information emerges.*

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