The steady march of progress doesn’t rest, and that’s as true in agriculture as it is in any industry. From precision microbiome measurements to walking robots, we’ve pulled together three more top tech headlines from the world of ag.
A quadrupedal robot makes research a walk in the park
Boston Dynamics has made quite a few viral videos with their robots. From bipedal machines doing backflips to dog-like ones maintaining their balance on ice, it’s hard not to be amazed by the accomplishments of these bots.
Now, Corteva Agriscience is partnering with Boston Dynamics and Trimble to put one of these bot designs to excellent use. “Annie” is quadrupedal and capable of acting autonomously on a specific plot or plant. Annie can navigate row crop fields, carry sensitive instruments, collect data and apply chemicals quickly and accurately.
All these functionalities add up to an exciting new horizon for Corteva Agriscience. As their leader of seed product development, Geoff Graham, put it, “[Annie] has tremendous potential as we push the boundaries of what we can deliver for farmers.”
Investors excited about modified microbes, to the tune of $430M
Pivot Bio closed an impressive round of funding recently, demonstrating investors’ excitement about the potential of biotech. But what exactly is Pivot Bio promising to do?
Simply put, they’re looking for a microbe-based solution to enhancing nitrogen-use efficiency.
Nitrogen is fundamental to healthy plant growth and has traditionally been dumped onto fields by farmers, with the risk of heavy rain moving it from the soil before it is absorbed for nutrients. This leads to toxic runoff and nitrous oxide greenhouse gas emissions.
In a balanced environment, the nitrogen needs of plants would be entirely taken care of by microbes in the soil; however, the microbes are unable to keep up. Pivot Bio is looking to change that. They want to modify the microbes in soil to continually consume the sugars put out by plants, and thus continually produce nitrogen. When implemented, these microbes can radically reduce the need for added fertilizer.
The microbes die off after harvest, requiring farmers to return for more for the next round of planting. Pivot Bio plans to keep making improvements, in the hopes that each year’s offerings are even better than the last.
More microbe money goes to Biome Makers in California
Microbes really are the star of the agritech/biotech show these days. Biome Makers wants to be the “23andMe of soil”, using DNA sequencing and sophisticated computing to analyze the microbiomes of a farmer’s soil.
The idea originated in bespoke medicine, where DNA sequencing has been used to identify mutations and health risks in an individual’s genetic code. Interested customers can either order a testing kit or send soil samples to the company, and get back reports on the soil’s overall health, its disease risk, and how it is reacting to different fertilizers and crop chemicals. Essentially, the service gives farmers an entirely new layer of data to understand what’s happening on their land and strategize toward improved sustainability.
No farmer should be locked out from exciting, beneficial new technologies because of financing challenges. Agri-Access is ready to help you help your clients. Find a relationship manager today.