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New regen ag-focused fund Soilworks makes its debut with PastureMap acquisition

June 2, 2020

There’s a new fund in town with an eye towards accelerating regenerative agriculture.

“While our history is in software, we see a change coming to food that mirrors the cloud computing revolution in technology,” said Ed Byrne, co-founder of Soilworks, in a statement announcing the new fund. “Regenerative practices are proven but not yet widely adopted. They rely on a deeper understanding of nature, food quality and health. We see it as one of the most important trends of the coming decades.”

Soilworks Natural Capital, a public benefit corporation, invests in, incubates, and acquires companies to help accelerate environmentally critical regenerative practices. This is the group’s first ag-focused fund. As the regenerative ag movement has picked up momentum, there’s been disagreement about what the term regenerative means. According to Soilworks, it encompasses a set of practices that work in partnership with nature to make great tasting, nutrient-rich food, while healing the soil and planet.

And Soilworks certainly isn’t letting any dust settle on the heels of its launch. The group has already acquired PastureMap, a digital system that helps graziers plan, evaluate, and record grazing management plans. Founded in 2015, the platform reports over 6 million acres of grazing land being managed through its offering.

“We are excited to see Soilworks take PastureMap to the next level,” said Christine Su, founder of PastureMap, “their experience in software is deep and proven, but we have also seen great passion and knowledge of the regenerative farming movement. We know customers will see massive improvements in the service making it easier for farmers to transition to better practices for their business and the planet.”

One of Soilworks’ founders, Lew Moorman, is a regenerative grazier at his own farm, Pure Pastures. He is an avid user of PastureMap as well as larger operators like the Birdwell and Clark Ranch, a 14,200-acre stocker operation in Texas’ tallgrass prairie.

Moorman previously founded Scaleworks, an investment organization that acquires B2B SaaS companies through its Venture Equity program. It also provides venture finance loans for growth-stage funding.

Regenerative agriculture gains interest

Soilworks isn’t the only group to turn a keener eye to regenerative agriculture. The 2019 Soil Wealth report determined that there are roughly 70 investment strategies with assets under management of over $47.5 billion just in the US.

A number of organizations are launching initiatives or programs designed to learn more about this burgeoning ideology and exploring how it can be scaled. Organic-focused Rodale Institute recently launched a new Regenerative Organic Certified label, for example, while a new investment forum debuted last year to explore financing mechanisms for regenerative agriculture. Danone is heading a coalition of agrifood leaders to help dairy farmers adopt regenerative practices while White Oak Pastures in Georgia partnered with General Mills to conduct a life cycle assessment study evaluating its carbon sequestration capabilities.

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