- EarthOptics, a company based in Arlington, Virginia that provides soil data measurement technologies and services, has secured $27.6 million Series B funding.
- The round was led by the VC arm of Continental Grain, a major grain and animal agriculture company in the US. Conti Ventures was joined by a bevy of big agrifood names including Rabo Food & Ag Innovation Fund, CNH Industrial, Louis Dreyfus Company Ventures, and CHS and Growmark’s Cooperative Ventures.
- They join existing investors FHB Ventures, S2G Ventures, Route 66 Ventures and Middleland Capital’s VTC Ventures who participated in EarthOptic’s $10.3 million Series A in 2021.
- The funding will be used to develop sensor suite capabilities for GroundOwl, which is a sensor that can measure tillage depth in real-time. It will also be used to scale its services and accelerate acreage growth, which already grew 10 times in 2022, according to EarthOptics.
- Lars Dyrud, EarthOptics CEO also says the funding will scale their SoilMapper platform, which EarthOptics claims is a cheaper alternative to traditional soil sampling and lab analysis.
Why it matters
Soil analysis has always been core to farmers’ operations and is now more important than ever with concerns around soil erosion and loss across the globe during to damaging farming practices such as over-tilling and extensive use of synthetic inputs damaging soil health. Estimates predict this loss to be worth $400 billion per year.
Soil analysis usually involves sending soil samples to a lab for testing which is not only laborious but time-consuming, something farmers often do not have on their side.
EarthOptics is using data to unlock soil’s potential. It claims to produce real-time data on soil health and structure using ground-based sensors, satellites, machine learning models, and agronomic expertise.
With this financing, EarthOptics says its technologies will be more accessible to its users who comprise farmers, suppliers and food companies. It believes this will increase the delivery of ‘hyper-accurate soil insights’ to farmers, saving costs for them, informing their tillage decisions and determining their carbon output.
“We believe EarthOptics has a clear advantage in soil measurement technology, as they improve the scalability of measurement while helping to reduce extrapolation error,” said Chris Abbott, co-head of Conti Ventures. “As we look for technologies that can verify critical soil measurements for growers, we believe EarthOptics stands out in providing agronomic value as well as verification for initiatives like carbon credits.”
EarthOptics has also partnered with USDA in its Climate Smart Commodities Program which is investing $3.1 billion across 141 projects, that create a market for ag commodities that have been sourced from climate-smart practices.