Episodes

  • Headstorm: https://headstorm.com/

    AGPILOT: https://headstorm.com/agpilot/

    Ag Ventures Alliance: https://agventuresalliance.com/

    AgLaunch: https://aglaunch.com/

    FoA 068: Farmers Investing in AgTech with Spencer Stensrude of Ag Ventures Alliance and Matthew Rooda of SwineTech

    FoA 117: Bridging the Gap Between AgTech Entrepreneurs and Farmers with Pete Nelson of AgLaunch

    Today's episode features Pete Nelson and Margaret Oldham from Aglaunch and Spencer Stensrude at Ag Ventures Alliance. If you’ve been a long time listener to this show - i mean a REALLY long time listener - you heard Spencer back on episode 68 in 2017 and Pete on episode 117 in 2018. I’ll link to both of those classics in the show notes. Since that time the two organizations have partnered together based on a shared mission of investing in farmer-led innovations. They each have unique aspects to their models, which i’ll let Pete, Margaret and Spencer describe to you. But they also are joining forces in a way to put the farmer at the center of investing in and incubating early stage agtech companies. 

    There are some really interesting points brought up in this conversation that I’ve been thinking about a lot since we recorded it a couple of months ago. Things like, should billion dollar unicorn exits be the measure of success for venture capital? Or number of viable lasting companies? Or maybe jobs and economic impact on communities? Is the fact that venture capital gets poured into so many businesses that fail a feature or a bug when it comes to advancing agriculture? And does the fact that we are in a commodity driven business mean that by definition, all of the value created by companies will eventually get squeezed out and extracted by low cost leaders? Some thought provoking questions that I think you’ll enjoy pondering as you listen to Spencer, Margaret, and Pete. 

    Spencer Stensrude invests at the intersection of transformational technology and agriculture. He is the CEO of Ag Ventures Alliance, which is a farmer-owned cooperative with a mission to increase farm profitability. They make venture capital investments in startups with a direct impact on farmers. Before joining AgVA, he started and operated some small businesses, invested in income-producing real estate, and worked in the commercial lending industry.

    Pete Nelson has been experimental farming, venture investing, and creating innovation hubs in agriculture with farmers across the US and Canada since 1997. He is currently co-founder and President of AgLaunch, a nationally recognized farmer-led innovation platform for advancing the next generation of agricultural technologies.

    Margaret Oldham is the Vice President of Innovation at AgLaunch. She is an experienced marketer and coach with a reputation for...

  • Headstorm: https://headstorm.com/

    AGPILOT: https://headstorm.com/agpilot/

    Carbon Robotics: https://carbonrobotics.com/

    Paul is the founder and CEO of Carbon Robotics. What Carbon Robotics is doing is novel and interesting in and of itself, and we’re going to talk a lot about that in today’s episode. But it’s important to note that Paul has a really impressive history of building technology companies outside of agriculture.

    Before starting Carbon Robotics, he co-founded Isilon Systems, a distributed storage company, in 2001. Isilon went public in 2006 and was acquired by EMC for $2.5 billion in 2010. In 2006, Paul co-founded Clustrix, a distributed database startup that was acquired by MariaDB in 2018. Immediately before Carbon, Paul served as Director of Infrastructure Engineering at Uber, where he grew the team and opened the company’s engineering office in Seattle, later focusing on deep learning and computer vision. 

    So in today’s episode we’re going to talk a lot about laser weeding, building a field robotics company, Paul’s views on artificial intelligence and where he sees applications for the tech in agriculture, and the challenges an opportunities ahead for carbon robotics and agtech in general. 

    I’ll drop you into the conversation where Paul is explaining his desire to jump from tech to agtech, and how that transition has been for him. 

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  • Headstorm: https://headstorm.com/

    AGPILOT: https://headstorm.com/agpilot/

    Azure Data Manager for Agriculture (ADMA): https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/products/data-manager-for-agriculture

    Ag Powered Services: https://agpoweredservices.com/

    "Scaling Sustainability Through Bayer & Microsoft Partnership": https://www.bayer.com/en/agriculture/bayer-and-microsoft-partnership

    Today's episode features conversations with Claudia Roessler and Mark Pendergrast. A quick heads up on a couple of things before we dive in: first, both of these interviews were recorded at World Agri-Tech in San Francisco and they were other conversations happening in the media room for part of the time, so I hope you’ll forgive a little bit of background noise. Second, similar to Amie Thesingh’s episode last month, I originally recorded these interviews to be spotlight episodes featuring the work Headstorm does. Just like in Amie’s case I thought this story warranted a full-length episode, so we will focus on the work Microsoft and Bayer are doing together, but I will also include the role Headstorm is playing in all of this as well. Just a heads up on that. 

    You heard from both Claudia and Mark as part of our Generative AI episode which was #409, but the focus today is on this initiative started by Microsoft with their Azure Data Manager for Agriculture, or ADMA. We’ll also explore the collaboration with Bayer Cropscience, in particular they’re Ag Powered Services Platform that brings together agronomic data for a variety of applications. 

    Because sometimes this data stuff can get a little abstract, I think it’s probably helpful to level-set with some basics. Starting with cloud services. I think most of us intuitively know what a massive leap forward cloud computing has been for technology in general. From software applications to file storage to other sources of data - cloud computing is how we are able to power digitization. The cloud is not new obviously. But what has become clear is that just giving people access to the cloud isn’t enough to really tap into the power of all of this information - it’s just a place to store it. Moving from stored data to actionable data is a very very heavy lift - especially in an industry like agriculture. 

    So, Microsoft started creating industry-specific data management platforms. They describe this as “industry-specific data connectors and capabilities to connect farm data from disparate sources.” They’ve been successful with similar efforts in other industries like retail, finance and healthcare, and last year they unveiled Azure Data Manager for Agriculture, a continuation of the work they were doing with FarmBeats, which you might remember from episode 266 with Microsoft’s Ranveer Chandra. 

    So when it comes to making data more valuable, the cloud is a massive step forward, now we have another massive step forward in ADMA, and we’re also going to talk about what could be yet another massive step forward Bayer’s Ag Powered Services. Bayer is providing additional data infrastructure that they first developed to use internally, and now are offering to other companies that rely on agronomic data to power their various digital applications. 

    The ultimate goal here though is that data no longer becomes the bottleneck to progress. If a buyer, for example, wants to pay a farmer more for certain agronomic practices, all they need is...

  • Headstorm: https://headstorm.com/

    AGPILOT: https://headstorm.com/agpilot/

    Phospholutions: https://www.phospholutions.com/

    Sentinel Fertigation: https://www.sentinelfertigation.com/

    I’m a firm believer that in the U.S. our agricultural research and extension programs at our land grant universities truly are national treasures. But of all the outstanding research that’s done at these institutions every year, not enough of it seems to get commercialized. Today we highlight two young entrepreneurs that each began their entrepreneurial journeys at their respective campuses, and are today growing real businesses helping farmers with different aspects of nutrient management. 

    Today, you'll hear from Hunter Swisher, founder and CEO of Phospholutions which initially commercialized research done at Penn State. He does a great job talking about some of the major issues with the status quo when it comes to phosphorous. If you haven’t looked into it before it’s seriously eye opening. 

    Then we’ll move west to Nebraska, where Jackson Stensell formed his company Sentinel Fertigation based on research he was doing as a grad student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He also focuses on nutrient management but specifically on irrigated crops. 

    Hunter Swisher currently serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Phospholutions, Inc., which he founded prior to graduating with his B.S. degree in Plant Sciences from Pennsylvania State University. Phospholutions is a sustainable fertilizer company with the mission of improving global phosphate efficiency. 

    Jackson Stansell is the founder and CEO of Sentinel Fertigation. Sentinel Fertigation leverages satellite imagery and geospatial data to empower precision nutrient management - particularly for nitrogen fertigation. Originally from Dothan, Alabama, Jackson did his undergrad at Harvard where he also played football. He was pursuing a masters degree at Nebraska when he turned the research he was doing into a business and decided to put his PhD on hold to commercialize the technology.

  • Headstorm: https://headstorm.com/

    AGPILOT: https://headstorm.com/agpilot/

    4AG Robotics: https://4ag.ai/

    As you heard a bit about in last weeks episode, mushrooms are an incredible indoor crop with a ton of advantages and potential. But they are also extremely labor intensive. 

    “When you have a crop that doubles in size every 24 hours, you're often picking mushrooms at the end of the shift because you know that they'll start colliding with other mushrooms or their caps will open up by the next morning. So you pick them too quickly. Whereas if you know, I can come back in three hours and pick that, you'll gain the extra yield and weight that'll come with it. A robot is, is able to do that, that you know, shift labor can't accommodate.”

    Sean O’Connor and the team at 4AG Robotics are bringing automation to this industry. But they’re not the first to have this idea, which means they have to work a bit harder to gain farmers’ trust. 

    “Decades of people saying that we're gonna solve harvesting through automation, much like the rest of agriculture as well, and decades of people being wrong. So that barrier for acceptance of an MVP is very low, and you gotta have something that truly adds value to them from day one.”

    Today is not only an education in mushroom farming, but a candid look on what it takes to bring technology to an established industry. Sean O’Connor  of 4AG Robotics on today’s Future of Agriculture podcast.

  • Headstorm: https://headstorm.com/

    AGPILOT: https://headstorm.com/agpilot/

    Ecovative: https://www.ecovative.com/

    MyForest Foods: https://myforestfoods.com/

    I’ve been meaning to do an episode on mushroom farming and mushroom technology for a long long time. But the right story just never presented itself. Then I got connected with Ecovative and about the same time got in touch with the subject of next weeks’ interview and all of a sudden I have two fascinating stories of fungi! And these aren’t far-fetched companies: they are proving commercially that mushroom farming shouldn’t be kept in the dark when it comes to the future of agriculture. In fact, when you think about the vast diversity of fungi that exist in nature, it’s surprising to me that we haven't seen more done to commercialize them for food, fiber and other resources (relative to domesticated plants and animals). But there are reasons to believe that’s starting to change, and will likely be accelerated through advancements in biotechnology in my opinion. 

    So this is a great time to bring on Eben Bayer, co-founder and CEO of Ecovative, which he co-founded clear back in 2007. Ecovative is now the leading mycelium technology company in the world. He is also Co-founder of MyForest Foods, and is listed as an inventor on 64+ patents. 

    Eben grew up working on his family's farm in Vermont, where he began thinking of mycelium as a new category of material with myriad possibilities. He has since developed mycelium technology into the basis of sustainable innovations across industrial categories, including applications in construction, packaging, food, automotive, fashion and apparel.

    We will of course focus on his work in food and specifically on the bacon product made from his mycelium.

  • Headstorm: https://headstorm.com/

    AGPILOT: https://headstorm.com/agpilot/

    Wilbur-Ellis: https://www.wilburellis.com/

    Today's episode features Amie Thesingh, president of ag solutions and chief technology officer at Wilbur-Ellis. Today’s episode is a perfect compliment to last week’s episode with Brad Fruth of Beck’s Hybrids. Both Beck’s and Wilbur-Ellis are well-established family-owned companies that aren’t just resting on their laurels. They’re looking ahead and wanting to be on the cutting edge of technology and innovation. Like last week’s episode, the perspective Amie shares is both grounded in the realities of how agriculture really works, but also forward-looking and open to how the industry is evolving and changing. 

    In Amie’s role, she has to wear three different hats: 

    Strategy and business development for the company as a wholeRunning their ag solutions business, which includes digital solutions, sustainable grower solutions, and their proprietary products portfolio - really focuses on innovation and the futureAnd the IT function - how they’re using digital and data internally

    So it’s a big job for the 103 year-old leading international marketer and distributor of agricultural products, animal nutrition and specialty chemicals and ingredients.

    Amie joined Wilbur-Ellis in 2020, bringing deep strategy, commercial and general management expertise to her role, along with experience that spans the food, agribusiness and technology industries. Before Wilbur-Ellis, Thesingh held a variety of leadership roles at Cargill, where she developed and executed solutions for farmers, including new product development. Most recently, she was Vice President of Strategy, Marketing and Innovation for Cargill’s protein businesses in Latin America, Europe and Asia. She created the first global strategy and acquisition portfolio across these regions, identified the critical levers for aggressive organic and M&A growth, and subsequently took responsibility for go-to-market and innovation improvement efforts.

    And that’s where i’ll drop you into today’s conversation, where Amie is talking about her valuable experience at Cargill, and how that set her up for her current role at Wilbur-Ellis. 

  • Headstorm: https://headstorm.com/

    AGPILOT: https://headstorm.com/agpilot/

    Software is Feeding The World: https://www.rhishipethe.com/sftw

    Beck's Hybrids: https://www.beckshybrids.com/

    The word “innovation” is tossed around quite a bit - I’m guilty of overusing it myself. But what does it mean? There’s probably no better person to dig into this question at least in agriculture than Beck’s Hybrids director of innovation Brad Fruth. 

    “Ideas are cheap.  Motivated people that are passionate about their ideas is what is lacking.”

    Beck’s Hybrids is the largest family-owned retail seed company and the third-largest seed brand in the country. But it’s Brad’s views on innovation and adding value to customers that really stand out today me in today’s episode.

    “Focus on what we're good at, which is seed, and the selection of seed, the placement and management of it, but then partner with best in breed on everything else.”

    Today, Brad shares some of the specific ways Beck’s Hybrids adds value to their farmer customers, and he shares openly and candidly his views on the current state of ag technology. 

    “If you don't have a good value prop and you're not delivering value, then this is just the inevitable. Right? And so the industry probably needs a little bit of belt tightening to make sure that you are delivering direct farm value and you're just not blowing smoke.” 

    Brad Fruth of Beck’s Hybrids sits down with guest host Rhishi Pethe on today’s Future of Agriculture podcast. Brad is the  is the director of innovation at Beck’s. He started there as an intern and has now worked there for about 20 years. Over that time, he has been dedicated to converging IT, data and agriculture into real solutions for farmer customers. This background gives him a perspective that you will really enjoy hearing because it is both technical and relatable, and always focused on what makes a meaningful impact at the farm level. 

    Today’s interview was put together by our guest host, Rhishi Pethe. This is now the third episode Rhishi has brought to the program after Verdant Robotics in 391 and Lavoro Agro in 404. As many of you know, Rhishi writes the newsletter Software is Feeding the World. If for some reason you are not subscribed, you’ll find a link to do so in the show notes.

  • Headstorm: https://headstorm.com/

    AGPILOT: https://headstorm.com/agpilot/

    ELO Life: https://elolife.com/

    Pairwise: https://www.pairwise.com/home

    New Leaf Symbiotics: https://www.newleafsym.com/

    Harpe Bio: https://harpebio.com/

    "Biologicals are ‘economically unfeasible’ According to Report: The Shortcomings and Opportunities" by Upstream Ag Insights: https://www.upstream.ag/p/biologicals-are-economically-unfeasible

    I considered a title for this episode that was something like “The Biological Revolution Coming to Agriculture”. 

    I decided against it, and not just because it’s over-dramatic and the word ‘revolution’ is tossed around way too much, but because it would give many listeners the wrong idea of what this episode is about. 

    This is not an episode about biologicals, which has become a catch-all term for things like biostimulants, biopesticides, biofungicides, and bioherbicides. I’m not a fan of trying to categorize things as “biologicals” for the following reasons: 

    The term “biological” doesn’t tell a farmer customer anything about what the product will do for them. Is it effective? Is it profitable? What value does it have? In fact, in some cases calling it a “biological” is used to almost justify that it’s not as effective. Which brings me to my second point. The term “biological” comes with a lot of baggage. Decades of new products emerging with promises that at best don’t work in all cases, and at worst appear to be snake oil. Some of the benefits of a biological don’t have incentives in place to actually return value to farmers. Meaning, if for example, a biological can improve quality or boost the marketing story of a commodity or reduce emissions, how will the farmer see the money back from their investment? There are products that aren’t purely a biological or a synthetic chemistry, but deliver great outcomes for farmers. They get lumped in at times with biologicals because they have nowhere else to go. We’ve heard this on this show with Sound Agriculture’s SOURCE that uses chemistry to improve the performance of natural microbes, or Vestaron who has peptide products for pest control, and today will add a natural chemistry company to that list in Harpe Bio, which uses formulations from plant extracts for a suite of herbicides. Lastly, the entire industry is looking for ways to reduce reliance on synthetic chemistry whether that’s due to resistance, regulation, or other factors. So being a “biological” is just becoming less and less of a differentiator. 

    With all of that said I do believe that advancements in biotechnology will have the single biggest impact of any technology on the future of agriculture. And that’s what I want to talk about here in this episode and highlight four companies that are doing some fascinating work driven by biology, that I had the chance to sit down with at World Agri-Tech this year. 

    So that intro might sound like I’m both criticizing biologicals and calling them the future of agriculture. Let me clarify: my point is that we need to stop lumping everything into this biologicals category and making judgments about a vague category and instead look at how companies and products can stand on their own merits and

  • Headstorm: https://headstorm.com/

    AGPILOT: https://headstorm.com/agpilot/

    Today’s episode features Headstorm CEO Lawrence King. Lawrence has over 18 years of technology strategy consulting experience. He got his start in agtech with Farmlink over eight years ago where he built an engineering team. That company ran into some hard times, and Lawrence found himself with a talented team of engineers and no work to do. He tapped into his contacts in agtech looking for strategy and engineering talent and Headstorm was born. 

    Today, Headstorm has worked with companies all throughout agriculture and in similar industries who want to implement large-scale technology initiatives in their businesses. He’ll give us a few examples of what that looks like. Also, Headstorm recently announced a product of their own called AGPILOT, which uses generative AI to give ag retailers and other agronomists a new interface to record and access their data which ultimately allows them to better serve farmer customers.

    Lawrence has a lot of battle-tested wisdom about what works and what doesn’t work in agtech, and he shares a lot of those insights in today’s interview.  

  • Headstorm: https://headstorm.com/

    AGPILOT: https://headstorm.com/agpilot/

    Hemprino: https://www.hemprino.co.nz/

    Prime Future Newsletter: https://primefuture.substack.com/

    We’ve all heard the stats about how little of what consumers pay makes it back to the farmer or rancher. Some producers, like New Zealand sheep farmer Paul Ensor, are seizing the opportunity to capture more of that value.

    "A lot of farmers don't know where their produce goes once it leaves the farm gate, but we're very well connected and we know what standards they require for us to grow the wool under. And so it's all about adding value and the best way to do that is be better connected to our end customer, farm to fashion."

    Paul is capitalizing on this farm to fashion opportunity in a number of ways, including his own natural fiber brand called Hemprino, which is a blend of 80% fine merino wool and 20% hemp. 

    "There's a lot of wool blended with synthetic fibers to give it various attributes, whether to make the yarn stronger or more durable or give it some stretch. So we thought, well, why can't we do that with another natural fiber?"

    Hemprino has been successful and Paul says he’s having a lot of fun, but running a consumer focused business on top of a farming operation, is not an easy challenge to take on.

    "The supply chain is very challenging. So like when the wool leaves the farm, it's almost at times up to 18 months before we can have a garment to sell. So just all that managing that time from leaving the farm gate to hitting the store, if you like, has been quite challenging."

    Paul Ensor of Hemprino talks to guest host Janette Barnard on today’s Future of Agriculture podcast.

  • Headstorm: https://headstorm.com/

    AGPILOT: https://headstorm.com/agpilot/

    Bayer Announcement: https://www.bayer.com/media/en-us/bayer-pilots-unique-generative-ai-tool-for-agriculture/

    Bayer AgPowered Services: https://www.bayer.com/media/en-us/bayer-collaboration-with-microsoft-connects-farm-data-to-address-lack-of-data-interoperability-in-agriculture/

    Microsoft World Agri-Tech Reflections: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/industry/blog/sustainability/2024/04/02/world-agri-tech-2024-pioneering-agriculture-resilience-with-ai/

    Claudia Roessler World Agri-Tech Reflections on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/claudia-roessler-microsoft_world-agri-tech-2024-pioneering-agriculture-activity-7180973495110057984-Bay4?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_desktop

    FoA 111: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning with Jeremy Williams https://futureofagriculture.com/episode/future-of-agriculture-111-artificial-intelligence-and-machine-learning-with-jeremy-williams-of-monsanto 

    FoA 361: Meet Norm, FBN's AI-Powered Ag Advisor with Kit Barron and Charles Baron https://futureofagriculture.com/episode/foa-361-meet-norm-fbns-ai-powered-ag-advisor-with-kit-barron-and-charles-baron

    FoA 266:Microsoft Wants to Democratize Data-Driven Agriculture https://futureofagriculture.com/episode/foa-266-microsoft-wants-to-democratize-data-driven-agriculture 

    FoA 345: Alphabet's Moonshot to Scale Sustainable Agriculture via Machine Learning with Dr. Elliott Grant of Mineral https://futureofagriculture.com/episode/foa-345-alphabets-moonshot-to-scale-sustainable-agriculture-via-machine-learning-with-elliott-grant-of-mineral 

    “Yield Maps Killed Agtech Software, Can AI Fix It?” https://tenacious.ventures/insights/yield-maps-killed-agtech-software-can-ai-fix-it 

    Bailey Stockdale LLM Benchmarking:

  • SWAT MAPS: https://swatmaps.com/

    Follow Paul Sullivan on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SullivanAgro

    These Field Report segments are short occasional episodes where we will hear from the people who actually use and hopefully benefit from the innovations we discuss on the show. 

    We’ve already been doing this through the spotlight segments that have aired at the end of about one episode every month. I’ve really enjoyed these sort of customer testimonials that are provided from our quarterly presenting sponsors. 

    So I’m taking what we were doing with those spotlights and creating standalone episodes with a similar concept: only now sometimes it will be associated with the sponsor, and sometimes not - just profiles of farmers and other users of agricultural innovations giving their report from the field. 

    In today’s case, Paul Sullivan is a certified crop consultant and agronomist in Eastern Ontario. He has operated his agronomy services firm, P.T. Sullivan Agro, since 1997, and started using SWAT MAPS in recent years. This part of Ontario which is just outside of Ottawa, is mostly corn, soybeans and wheat. Paul’s work focuses on developing crop plans around nutrient management, pH, pesticides, and some genetic recommendations as well. 

    Before starting the business, Paul spent eight years as a soil and crop advisor with the ministry of agriculture and food covering three counties with the provincial extension group there. So he has a long history of working directly with farmers to solve agronomic problems.

  • Variable Rate done RIGHT with SWAT MAPS: https://swatmaps.com/

    University of Saskatchewan Precision Agriculture Certificate Program: https://admissions.usask.ca/precision-agriculture.php

    I wanted to have a conversation about cutting edge tools and the future of digital agriculture, and I definitely think we succeeded in bringing that to you today. Both Steve and Preston are thinking deeply about the best ways to collect and analyze data, think about variability, and utilize this deeper understanding for real world outcomes on farms. 

    Dr. Preston Sorenson is a research associate in the department of soil science at the University of Saskatchewan. His work focuses on mapping soil properties using a range of data sources, usually from satellite imagery and elevation data. He also works a lot with soil sensor systems, in particular for rapid carbon measurements. And carbon measurement is something we definitely get into today. 

    Dr. Steve Shirtliffe is a professor also at the University of Saskatchewan but in the department of plant sciences. As I mentioned in the opener, he pivoted his career about seven years ago from his focus in agronomy to now working in the area broadly referred to as digital agriculture. His focus is on crop imaging and understanding in-field spatial variability and what causes it. 

    Steve and Preston talk about digital tools, ag data, artificial intelligence, and what the future might hold for precision agriculture.

  • Variable Rate done RIGHT with SWAT MAPS: https://swatmaps.com/

    The Context Network: https://contextnet.com/

    Today's episode features Christian Guffy of the Context Network. I wanted to bring Christian on the show to talk about talent and growing a client services firm. I think those are both interesting and important topics that I haven’t done a good job of covering on the show. 

    In client services, which is the business I’m in with the consulting that I do, all you have to sell is your talent. So finding ways to recruit, retain and develop talent is extremely important. It’s important in any business, but especially in a business where your people’s abilities is the only thing you have to offer. Christian had some great perspective on this and some interesting insights into the way Context operates. 

    For some quick background here, and some context on Context: Christian is a Partner at The Context Network and has been with the firm in a variety of roles for 10 years. He has a wide range of experience in working with clients across the food and agriculture value chain with notable focus on the upstream crop and animal sectors. He has worked with clients in the development and execution of strategic plans along with market and competitive intelligence. He has also advised companies on corporate financial planning including capital expenditures, business unit divestitures, and strategic acquisitions. Context's clients are many of the largest companies in the agriculture industry including manufacturers in crop protection, animal health, ag equipment, seeds, processing and handling, and many others.

  • SWAT MAPS: https://swatmaps.com/

    Corteva Agriscience: https://www.corteva.com/

    These new Field Report segments are short occasional episodes where we will hear from the people who actually use and hopefully benefit from the innovations we discuss on the show.

    We’ve already been doing this through the spotlight segments that have aired at the end of about one episode every month. I’ve really enjoyed these sort of customer testimonials that are provided from our quarterly presenting sponsors.

    So I’m taking what we were doing with those spotlights and creating standalone episodes with a similar concept: only now sometimes it will be associated with the sponsor, and sometimes not - just profiles of farmers and other users of agricultural innovations giving their report from the field.

    In today’s case, Brett McArtor is a senior research associate at Corteva Agriscience based in Johnston, Iowa. Corteva has three major focuses: crop protection, seed, and digital which supports those other two - and that’s where Brett works. Since graduating from Iowa State, Brett has remained focused on working with farmers to perform trials and research projects on their operations. He thinks of it as farmer-led science to figure out how new products fit into their management systems and affect their bottom line. He also brings that information back to the company to help formulate or position products to better suit farmer needs.

  • Variable Rate done RIGHT with SWAT MAPS: https://swatmaps.com/

    WonderCow: https://wondercow.com/

    The Business of Food Newsletter: https://jenniferbarney.substack.com/

    I believe that there are a lot of opportunities for those of us in agriculture in paying attention to food and health trends. 

    I don’t personally love the term “food is medicine”, but obviously poor diet is a major cause of health problems, and we would all be better off to spend more of our time and probably our dollars prioritizing health and nutrition in our food choices. And that includes food supplements. 

    But even I, who loves thinking about cutting edge things in food and ag, was pretty shocked to hear last year of the trend of people including colostrum from cows in their diet. Colostrum being the milk produced by the mother at the time of giving birth. 

    As you’ll hear today, there is a growing number of health-conscious consumers that are looking to the unique nutritive bioactive properties of colostrum and this powder is selling for big bucks. 

    Where there is a health trend - there is an agricultural opportunity.

    And that’s what we’re going to explore with guest host Jennifer Barney and dairy farmers Rob and Erica Diepersloot who are founders of WonderCow - powdered bovine colostrum for human consumption.

  • Variable Rate done RIGHT with SWAT MAPS: https://swatmaps.com/

    ProducePay: https://producepay.com/

    Today's episode features ProducePay founder Pablo Borquez Schwarzbeck. Born and raised in a 4th generation farming family from Mexico, Pablo brings over 20 years of experience in the fresh produce industry. After growing up on the family farm – Campos Borquez, a premier supplier of fresh asparagus and grapes to the United States and Canada – Pablo went on to work for The Giumarra Companies, managing grower relations in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and the United States. Pablo returned to the family farm as Chief Financial Officer, then went on to complete his MBA at Cornell University, where the idea of ProducePay was started, founded and launched. 

    Last year the company announced that longtime board member and advisor Patrick McCullough would take over as CEO, and Pablo moved at that time into the role of Executive Director of the board. But as you’ll hear in this interview he is just as energized as ever about their mission and their future. 

    We talk about the challenges of the produce trade and why there is so much waste and so many intermediaries involved, why he thinks there in a position to create a better model, what role financial technology has in their ability to pull it off, how interest rates and investor sentiment impact companies like ProducePay, and how his transition has been from founder to CEO to board director. 

    There’s a lot to this story but a good place to start is acknowledging that we all want quality produce to be at the store every time we show up, whether its in season locally or not. For that to happen, there’s a lot of people involved around the world, and a lot of waste along the way. ProducePay may have started as a way to better capitalize farmers, but now they have their focus on how they can help those farmers manage price risk. 

    And the guy who started it all is today’s guest, Pablo Borquez. 

  • Variable Rate done RIGHT with SWAT MAPS: https://swatmaps.com/

    Lavoro Agro: https://www.lavoroagro.com/

    Software Is Feeding The World Newsletter: https://www.rhishipethe.com/sftw

    Work with Rhishi: https://www.metaldoglabs.ai/

    Brazil has officially overtaken the US to become the top corn exporter in the world. And companies like Lavoro Agro are seizing a huge opportunity to bring more technology to Brazilian farmers.

    "A US corn farmer is gonna be two times more productive than that Brazilian farmer, and the difference really is gonna come down to technology. And that technology comes in the form of inputs. And inputs is really where Lavoro plays."

    That's Lavoro's Chief Digital Officer, Alex. Wimbush. Today, he sits down with guest host Rhishi Pethe, who was also his colleague when they both worked at the Climate Corporation.

    I'm noticing a lot of companies out there almost have like a FOMO about AI and you know, some of these new tools like ChatGPT. Are you feeling the pressure from certain folks, like, Hey, we need to use ChatGPT, or we need to use, you know, whatever the latest shiny object is?

    This episode is a fascinating exploration of product management, Brazil. In agriculture and ag retail.

    " I haven't seen yet any real true sort of sustained higher value input plus services plus products plus digital type offering.

    Rhishi Pethe interviews Lavoro Agro's Alex Wimbush on today's Future of Agriculture podcast.

  • Variable Rate done RIGHT with SWAT MAPS: https://swatmaps.com/

    TransparentSea: https://www.transparentseafarm.com/

    [Video] "How America's Biggest Indoor Shrimp Farm Sells 2 Million Shrimp Every Year": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AK_RQ1uaGs

    [Video] "Tour of TransparentSea Farm's urban shrimp farm": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wnyi1Sc6pk

    Today’s featured conversation is with Steve Sutton, founder and CEO of TransparentSEA Farm in Southern California. I’m excited to share this one with you. I became very interested in indoor aquaculture this past year. As I think about vertical farming for vegetables, my biggest concern comes down to spending big dollars on real estate, technology, energy and labor to produce a product that really isn’t that valuable - both in terms of dollars and nutrition. However, with fish, you have a much more valuable product than say lettuce. So, why haven’t we been talking more about indoor aquaculture? That was the question I asked myself, and it turns out, some people HAVE been talking about this - a lot. And it’s exciting, but also carries with it a lot of the same realities as all of indoor agriculture. It was very interesting to get into these realities with Steve on today’s episode. Even if you’re not interested in aquaculture at all, this episode is worth listening to because the parallels to other farming systems are evident. He also calls attention to some serious issues with labeling, and changing consumer behavior that I think is really important for anyone in a food-related industry. 

    But first, a bit of a shrimp farming primer: not only are these little critters delicious, nutritious, high in protein and extremely versatile - i’m trying hard right now not to quote Bubba from Forest Gump - but they are very efficient. They are ready to be harvested in just four months with a feed conversion ratio of 1.4 pounds of feed for one pound of gain. For reference, that’s better than all the other major proteins like chicken, pork, beef, etc. You can also set up an indoor shrimp farm anywhere. Steve’s is relatively close to the ocean, but that’s mostly because he wanted to be close to the demand - he’s making his own saltwater on site, as you’ll hear. 

    Steve’s background is after attending Columbia University he spent a year on Wall Street and decided it wasn’t for him. Wanting to make an impact he got very interested in fisheries which led to a master’s in marine conservation from the University of Miami and a career in aquaculture that ultimately led to him starting TransparenSea which has been in operation for about two years.