Agrible, the Champaign, Illinois startup offering a suite of decision support software tools for farmers as well as sustainability tracking for food brands, has raised $9.7 million of a $15.7 million Series B round of funding.
The first close was led by Maumee Ventures, the venture arm of The Andersons grain handling company. Also joining as a new investor is iSelect Fund, a venture capital fund for high net worth investors in the MidWest. Existing investors Flyover Capital, Archer Daniels Midland, and regular agtech investor Serra Ventures also joined the round.
Agrible’s suite of products for farmers largely center around the Morning Farm Report, a central dashboard which incorporates a range of data to give farmers field-level information about their farms including localized weather forecasts, energy use, soil loss, water quality and use, nitrogen use, tractor time and more.
Various add-on services use this data to help farmers make decisions, for example around spraying. SpraySmart, which Cynthia Bruno, chief strategy officer at Agrible says has been particularly popular with farmers this year, helps farmers to see the wind speed and direction, and determine the potential for sprays to go off-target to help them time herbicide and pesticide applications.
“There is some particular sensitivity around spraying this year with dicamba issues, so farmers are trying to make the best decisions and be as efficient as possible,” she said. The tool also helps them to record when and where they sprayed.
As the MidWest approaches harvest, Bruno expects Agrible’s tractor time monitoring tool to be particularly useful for farmers to track the efficiency of their machines, but Morning Farm Report also helps farmers to plan when to harvest (as well as when to plant) certain fields based on the weather conditions and resulting terrain by giving recommendations.
There are a range of other recommendations that Agrible provides using high-level, historical region-based data such as the type of seed to plant.
Agrible’s data sources range and it’s constantly increasing the number of third party providers integrated into the platform, such as MyJohnDeere, environmental impact tool DriftWatch, Winfield’s reviews and insights platform AnswerTech, satellite imagery startup AstroDigital, and CropCopter for its drones surveillance product.
The company will use part of this funding to increase the number of those integrations, according to Bruno.
It will also use the proceeds to scale the company’s sustainability offering, which Bruno says is at the core of Agrible’s mission.
“Our mission continues to be proving and improving a sustainable supply chain, and we think this round shows that we are leading the industry in doing that,” said Bruno. “We are working with new food brands all the time to help them make progress towards their sustainability goals with our data.”
Agrible works with food brands including General Mills on a project-by-project basis to track farm management practices in the regions they source ingredients from. Using the aforementioned field-level data, which farmers agree to share for this purpose, Agrible can give General Mills and others high-level information about key sustainability metrics such as water use and greenhouse gas emissions. By working with sustainability metrics company Field-to-Market, Agrible can then measure the performance of those sourcing regions against local and national benchmarks, which the food brands can use in their sustainability reporting.
“Everything we do, the integrations, the new technology, the passion behind the company and founders, is really to help growers find a marketplace for their information and grain. We’re excited to be that connection piece that helps growers tell the story of how they take good care of their land, and also help CPG’s reach their own sustainability goals and lessen their environmental footprints,” said Bruno.
Agrible was one of the first agtech startups to receive the Ag Data Transparency seal from the Ag Data Transparency Evaluator, a collective effort by American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union, and other farm industry groups. “The seal confirms that Agrible’s ag data contract is both transparent and simple, and that growers can be confident that Agrible is trustworthy and upfront about data ownership and usage,” according to Agrible’s website.
Asked where the main revenue stream of the business comes from — farmers or food brands — Bruno said:
“Sustainability is our main goal and mission; from a business standpoint, we really have two customers: the food brands and the farmers. The sustainability service for brands doesn’t work unless we’re building great tools for farmers. We will always be a friend to the grower and want to develop tools they need on the farm, so it’s exciting that fits with measuring sustainability. Many food companies have big goals for sustainability with deadlines for reducing their environmental footprint by 2020 or 2025; we’re the connecting piece to help them achieve a sustainable supply chain and report on it.”