Data management company Farmobile plans to use the new funding to help it expand its aggregation and data-for-profit services worldwide. For Ag Growth International, it could mean integrates more data-focused tech into its equipment offerings.
Independent farm data company Farmobile is boosting its coffers with a new round of funding led by farm equipment group Ag Growth International (AGI). Farmobile plans to use the new funding to expand its storage and data management services to farmers around the world. The companies have also signed a partnership agreement to expand their collaborative efforts.
Ag Growth International is focused on the planning, engineering, and manufacturing of solutions and systems for fertilizer, seed, grain, feed, and food. It manufactures portable and stationary grain handling, storage and conditioning equipment while also providing augers, belt conveyors, grain storage bins, grain handling accessories, and grain aeration equipment.
Investing in and partnering with a farm data startup could signal that the company is increasing its focus on digital offerings and looking for ways to integrate data-focused technology into its equipment offerings from the start.
This is the first funding for Farmobile since raising its $18 million Series B round in 2017, which was led by private investors in Kansas City along with Dutch agtech venture capital firm Anterra Capital and Kansas-based crop insurance provider AmTrust Agriculture Insurance Services.
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“Since their founding, AGI has been instrumental to the agriculture industry, connecting the global infrastructure through technology, equipment and products to help feed the world,” said Jason Tatge, CEO of Farmobile, said in a press release announcing the funding. “In a precision ag world, data is a crucial system of record for every pass on a field, which quickly turns into a system of orchestration to enable better in-field management decisions. AGI understands that, so we are thrilled to have a partner and investor like AGI as we continue on our mission to help unlock the full potential of data in agriculture.”
Launched in 2014, Farmobile is an ag data collection software and hardware company that offers a small in-cab unit for farm equipment called a PUC. The device wirelessly shares machine and agronomic data gathered in the field in real-time and allows the farmer to share it with advisors and employees like agronomists and insurance agents. The company sells the PUC along with various sensors and a complimentary software service that produces Automatic Electronic Field Records (EFRs) for customers.
Farmobile was launched in part to address concerns among growers about data ownership, such as whether a data management company can sell their data to third-parties like advertisers, insurers or the government. In 2016, Farmobile added legal agreements to better define their position that the farmer owns the data first and foremost, including information gleaned from field mapping, prescriptions, or other similar services.
For some opportunistic farmers, having a massive cache of farm data also presents another potential profit stream. On top of providing data management services, Farmobile also aggregates offers from companies that want to use the data and lets the farmers decide whether they want to opt-in in exchange for cash. Farmobile negotiates a price that the third-party must pay in order to access the anonymized data, amounting to $2 per acre up to 250,000 acres when the service launched.
“Agriculture is evolving faster than ever before, and data is at the core of the progress we have made and the progress we will make in years to come,” said Tim Close, president and CEO of AGI, in the statement. “The power of a company like Farmobile is that they enable access to insights that have previously been locked inside of machines or left in the field due to the challenge of data collection and transfer. As a company that has been serving agriculture for decades, we recognize the power of that information to help make decisions when they matter most.”
Profit potential aside, many farmers turned to third-party data aggregation services in an attempt to un-silo the several streams of data that they often have to manage in their operations. Despite existing for several years now, there are still a number of challenges that growers face when adopting precision ag technologies. Disjointed datasets that are locked into various platforms preventing the user from aggregating – and optimizing – these insights is one of the biggest headaches.
Privacy and ownership concerns plagued the ag data space in its early years and are still an issue for some farmers who remain leery of using precision ag for that very reason. As with any new technology sector, a number of companies raced to market offering similar data management programs. Farmobile found itself in a bitter legal battle with competitor company Farmers Edge over which company owns the right to the data-gathering technology