Author: Anthony James

With over 20 years experience in editorial management and content creation for a broad spectrum of market-leading B2B magazines and websites in the transport and technology sectors, Anthony has written news and features covering everything from airport security to autonomous vehicles, and stadium design to sustainable energy.

Beeflow, which provides crop pollination technologies, has raised US$8.3 million in a Series A financing round, led by Ospraie Ag Science and joined by Future Ventures’ Steve Jurvetson (a Tesla and SpaceX board member), Jeff Wilke (former Amazon CEO, worldwide consumer), Vectr Ventures, SOSV’s IndieBio and Grid Exponential. The Beeflow platform is based on extensive scientific research into how bee nutrition and behaviour influence pollinators’ performance and health. Dr. Walter Farina, an Argentinean researcher with more than 20 years of experience studying bee brains and communication, leads the scientific effort for Beeflow’s ToBEE – a technology that trains bees to…

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US food robotics company Soft Robotics Inc has announced a $10m Series B funding extension, with the capital raised going towards the launch of its SoftAI™ powered robotic solution that layers 3D vision and AI on top of the company’s patented ‘mGrip’ IP69K-rated, soft grasping technology to give industrial robots the hand-eye coordination of human beings. The Massachussetts-based firm says this combination of robotic ‘hands’, ‘eyes’ and ‘brains’ heralds the automation of bulk picking processes (for example, bin picking) in the food supply chain. The round was co-led by Material Impact, Scale Venture Partners, and Calibrate Ventures and sees Tyson…

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Vehicle maker CNH Industrial is set to acquire Raven Industries Inc, a US-based leader in precision agtech, for US$2.1 billion (US$58 per share). The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2021, subject to the approval of Raven shareholders and receipt of regulatory approvals. The acquisition builds upon a long partnership between the two companies and will further enhance CNH Industrial’s position in the global agriculture equipment market by adding strong innovation capabilities in autonomous and precision agriculture technology. CNH is currently the world’s second largest agricultural equipment manufacturer after John Deere, offering vehicles via its New…

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A solar-powered, low-cost, rugged ear tag that uses satellite monitoring to track cattle could soon provide ranchers with a powerful, new, bargaining tool Whether you call them ranches (US) or stations (Australia), the sheer size of some cattle grazing grounds defies belief, often stretching over thousands of acres, with King Ranch in Texas (825,000 acres), and Alexandria station in Australia (4 million acres), among some of the biggest and most well-known examples. Keeping track of livestock across such vast and varied landscapes in all weather conditions is a clear challenge, whether on horseback, from the front seat of a four-wheel…

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Following the European Food Safety Authority’s decision in January to deem mealworms safe for human consumption, natural insect protein supplier Ÿnsect has acquired Protifarm, a global leader in mealworm ingredients for human food applications. Protifarm boasts nearly 40 years of experience in insect breeding and owns 37 patents across 10 categories, bringing the total number of patents owned by Ÿnsect to nearly 300. Beyond expanding Ÿnsect’s food range derived from insect ingredients, the deal will also provide Ÿnsect with a third production site. In addition to its sites in France, Ÿnsect can now call upon Protifarm’s Dutch production site based…

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US vertical farming giant AppHarvest Inc has bought up Root AI, an artificial intelligence farming start-up that provides intelligent robots to help manage high-tech indoor farms. Following the US$60 million purchase, Root AI and its robotic universal harvester, Virgo, will now provide AppHarvest with a baseline of harvesting support, working alongside crop care specialists focused on more complex tasks, across its network of vast indoor farms, based in the Appalachia region, which produce beefsteak tomatoes and tomatoes on the vine. AppHarvest anticipates a game-changing advantage from its acquisition of Root AI’s technology – and in particular in the data collected…

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A new Anglo-Danish business that uses combinatorial analytics to improve the yield and resilience of crops and livestock is now available to the food and farming sector, following its official launch by Wheatsheaf Group, an international agtech investor. Synomics, which is based in Oxford, UK and Copehagen, Denmark, can create new biological insights rapidly, in ways that current technology cannot achieve, through the application of its proprietary combinatorial Insights Platform by a team of highly experienced agriculture domain experts. The platform is an adaptation of a system already proven by Oxford-based PrecisionLife, another Wheatsheaf invested company, to find new treatment…

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Guardian Agriculture, a pioneer in eVTOL-powered crop protection, has emerged out of stealth with a US$10.5 million seed round of financing led by Leaps by Bayer with participation from FMC Ventures, Wilbur-Ellis’ Cavallo Ventures, Fall Line Capital, the MIT-affiliated E14 Fund, Pillar VC and Neoteny, taking total finance raised to date to US$15.5 million. The investment follows 18 months of extensive R&D with partners across multiple high-value crops. Offering an integrated eVTOL system for precision application, the company says its solution extends growers’ reach, reduces environmental impact and minimises product resistance. Precision pesticide application cuts costs and benefits environment Provided…

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Corteva Agriscience LLC and Ginkgo Bioworks, Inc have entered into a multi-year agreement to apply the power of synthetic biology to design innovative crop protection technologies. The collaboration combines Corteva’s knowledge of natural product discovery and agricultural expertise with Ginkgo’s extensive cell engineering platform and DNA codebase to explore the next generation of naturally inspired sustainable solutions to combat invasive pests, capable of meeting resistance challenges. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that 20-40% of global crop production is lost to pests annually. Consequently, plant diseases and invasive insects/weeds cost the global economy billions of dollars. Novel…

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In what it claims is a world first, Singapore-based Sophie’s Bionutrients is now offering protein-packed burger patties made from microalgae. The company, which uses microalgae and patent-pending technologies to develop 100% plant-based and sustainable alternative protein, says its alternative meat patty boasts up to two times more protein than beef or most commercially available fish. Each patty, which weighs around 60g, is loaded with 25g of proteins – comprising all nine essential amino acids, including histidine and leucine, which are vital for producing proteins and tissue repair. For every 100g of the microalgae patty, up to one third is comprised…

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