Michael Pereira says the five companies selected so far have demonstrated remarkable promise.
The first five companies selected for the Farm2050 Nutrient Technology Trialing Platform have been named.
The duel-hemisphere agritech testing and validation platform aims to identify, validate and demonstrate at scale promising technologies in nutrient management and water contamination reduction across broad acre crops, horticulture and pasture-based dairy in collaboration with agritech investors, farmers, researchers and startup companies around the world.
The five companies chosen so far for the first wave of trials in New Zealand are ClimateAi, CropX, Eko360, Pastoral Robotics and Phospholutions Solutions.
The Farm2050 initiative was launched in 2014 to solve the challenges of feeding a global population of 10 billion people with deep technology solutions that create greater sustainability and nutrition outcomes.
Led by a partnership between venture capital firms Finistere Ventures and Innovation Endeavors, it is a ‘coalition of the willing’, spanning industry leading corporates, country partners and the burgeoning ecosystem of startups utilising technology to tackle productivity, sustainability and food access challenges.
Finistere Ventures chief agronomist Michael Pereira says the future of sustainable agriculture is rooted in the soil and solutions are needed that effectively manage nutrients and mitigate the environmental issues associated with nutrient leaching.
“All five of the companies we’ve selected (have) demonstrated remarkable promise as critical nutrient management technologies that will ease the transition to productive and profitable food production systems with low environmental impact,” Pereira said.
“We are optimistic that their technology can improve nutrient usage and reduce nutrient loss out in the field, under real environmental pressures within current farming systems and practices.
“Leveraging our country-specific strongholds around the globe, we look forward to helping these companies build high-fidelity proof points for environmental, sustainability and economic value,” he said.
While global investment in agrifood tech companies in 2020 surged to $22.3 billion according to Finistere Ventures’ 2020 Agrifood Tech Investment Review, more innovation focused on nutrient analysis and delivery, efficient uptake and environmental impact mitigation is essential for the continued health of our soil and the security of our food system.
Pereira says the first five companies selected stood out from dozens of other applicants based on the strength of their technology, existing data and proof points, global relevance and trial and commercial readiness.
Finistere Ventures, which has offices in the US, Ireland Israel and NZ, will lead the first wave of trials in NZ across pastoral/grazing dairy farms, high-value horticultural crops and broad acre farming efforts, with support from Agritech NZ, Callaghan Innovation and Plant & Food Research, taking full advantage of the southern hemisphere’s growing season.
The five companies selected so far will also have the opportunity to showcase their innovations and trial results to a global panel of high-profile industry leaders including Bayer, Landus Cooperative, The Mosaic Company, Nutrien, Syngenta and Western Growers Association.
With an open enrolment and evaluation process in place, Farm2050 anticipates extending the programme to the US in 2022 to capture year-round insights across diverse ecologies and farming systems.
Agritech NZ chief executive Brendan O’Connell says a lot of work has been going on in the background to get to the stage where trials will begin in NZ soon, to take advantage of the spring growing season.
“There’s been a lot to line up in terms of the Farm2050 ecosystem interests, NZ government interests, choosing the right science partner, which is Plant & Food Research, and then making sure things are lined up to do those follow-on trials in the Northern Hemisphere.
“The exciting thing for me is thinking of having companies doing long-term, properly structured trials at scale here in NZ and then the fact that in the coming years, those trials are going to be replicated in the northern hemisphere,” O’Connell said.
“That’s really difficult to line up, to get the resources in terms of proper science support, access to resources and the type of focus around it.”
Farm2050 tech companies selected
The companies chosen for the first wave of trials and their focuses are:
•ClimateAi, which uses AI to tackle climate risk across the food supply chain.
•CropX, an established farm management platform with soil sensing and nitrogen monitoring solutions.
•Eko360, a sustainable fertiliser start-up providing controlled-release nitrogen solutions
•Pastoral Robotics, focused on reducing nitrate leaching and greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farming with precision in-field nitrogen treatments.
•Phospholutions Solutions, which provides controlled-release phosphorus technology solutions.