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John Deere leads $16m funding for InnerPlant

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Innerplant has raised $16 million in Series A funding, with investors including US-based agricultural giant John Deere (NYSE:DE), to develop its optical seed technology.

  • Israeli seed technology company raises $16 million to accelerate deployment of its technology, which enables specific deployment of plant treatments to help reduce pesticide use
  • Backed by US-based John Deere, the funding is a sign of the growing importance of ag tech in the food and agriculture transition
  • While the energy sector may have been the first to feel the effects of transition, disruptive technologies are likely to accelerate in every sector.

As part of the battle to make agriculture more sustainable, Innerplant’s seed technology enables crops to give off optical signals when under stress to allow early and precise treatments that boost yields and reduce chemical use. As such, it has the potential to play a significant role in the increase in efficiency, and sustainability, of modern agriculture.

The successful close of its Series A round of funding brings InnerPlant’s total capitalisation to over $22 million as the company plans the soft launch of its first product, soybeans, in 2024. Existing investors, MS&AD VenturesBee PartnersUpWest, and TAU Ventures also contributed to the round.

Why is seed technology so important?

Technology in agriculture has advanced rapidly in the past decades, but studies show that there are additional opportunities to increase efficiency of crop pesticide and fertiliser use.

Crop yield is critical in a world of population growth and increasing climatic stress. In the EU for example, 2022’s drought was predicted by August’s Monitoring Agricultural Resources forecast to fall by a fifth. Despite such impact, it is also true that pathogens and disease are responsible for up to 20% of current losses in the average farmer’s crop yield.

Earlier detection and more responsive, plant-specific interventions offer a way to prevent losses and reduce waste, but farmers have historically lacked the data required to take such preventative action.

Actionable data allows for targeted action

InnerPlant’s approach to communicating information directly from plants, coupled with its use of advanced algorithms to process the data, solves this problem by providing plant-by-plant status with an unprecedented level of precision.

“Farmers can’t afford losing crop yield to pathogens but don’t have a reliable way to identify problems in time to act. So, they mitigate risk by spraying entire fields even when only a few plants need attention,” points out Shely Aronov, CEO and founder of InnerPlant. “Our trait gives farmers the data they need to act early and specifically at the individual plant level so they stop problems before they affect yields while using fewer chemicals.”

InnerPlant’s genetically engineered crops give off optical signals that are specific to stresses like fungal attacks, lack of water, or nitrogen deficiency. The signals are early enough that farmers can act before stresses spread, and are made easily detectable at scale by common imaging devices and algorithms.

“InnerPlant’s technology provides data directly from plants, which presents a unique opportunity for farmers to make an informed agronomic decision in the growing season to increase crop yield” explains Than Hartsock, Director of John Deere’s Corn & Soybean Production Systems. “We are excited to support InnerPlant and share a common vision of making farming more efficient and sustainable through plant-by-plant management.”

John Deere has long distinguished itself as a leader in innovation, and has recently pioneered breakthrough autonomous and sense & act technologies on its equipment. This investment in InnerPlant is the latest step in the company’s journey to ensure that farmers can grow enough food to feed the world’s growing population.

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