Agtech’s Moment To Shine

from Forbes

Agtech, the marriage of agriculture and technology, recently hit headlines with word of AppHarvest’s impending IPO. AppHarvest is an agtech startup that builds high-tech greenhouses with innovations that support water and energy conservation, including what is may be the world’s biggest greenhouse.

The company’s high profile investors include domestic lifestyle entrepreneur Martha Stewart and Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance. Over the summer celebrities Oprah Winfrey and Katy Perry invested in Apeel Sciences a California-based food bio company that produces a coating that extends the life of produce. Earlier this month Syngenta announced its acquisition of the Italian biotech company Valagro.

Could agriculture be seeing the start of a trend or are these indications of a coming of age of agtech?

More here.

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8 Comments

  1. Having investors such as Katy Perry and Martha Stewart is such a weird spectrum. However, this is definitely something I would like to do more research on. I feel this way because Agtech supports water conservation and in this day and age if something like the flu hits America we instantly run out of toilet paper and bottled water. The hysteria that occurs in this country every time something abnormal happens is sometimes comedic, which is why having structure is important. Agtech seems to me like a company that sees into the future and knows we need more sustaining greenhouses. The fact that the world’s largest greenhouse is a part of Appharvest is astounding. However, when I heard the words “marriage of technology and agriculture,” I did not think of Agtech. I felt like it would have something to do with automatic tractors or robot farmers and fields. Or something along those lines where human interaction in field work becomes limited, and the robots recycle/recharge using clean energy sources such as solar, wind, or water. This is just my first impression as to why I clicked on the blog, but I guess we aren’t there yet.

  2. Technology has been touching any sector in the United States’ and in the world’s economy. Technology has improved education, health, and anything that can be improved. In the latest years, technology has been focusing and developing new systems that can help agriculture and pollution too. As Forbes states, agriculture has been improved by new startups that create benefits in their whole system. In the last twenty years, we have seen many stocks climbing the market, and most of them were related to technology. In fact, Forbes defines technology stocks as the most profitable in the last thirty years. Tesla had been one of the latest phenomena in past ten years. Elon Musk’s company has been growing more than two hundred percent in the last year, and it has not suffered the pandemic crisis. The stock has reached the one thousand dollars target in few months, in fact, the boards of directors of the innovative company has decided to split the stock in order to lower its price for the normal investors. Tesla as Facebook, Amazon and Apple is considered one of the best investments in the stock market, and all of them are recognized for their technological benefits provided to people. Technology makes easier people’s lives, in fact, everybody is relying on it. Agtech would probably be a new wave of rocket stocks that climb the market and they would make many people richer. Their future perspective in the stock market can be higher if they really make technological systems and products that are going to make more profitable agricultural companies. Agriculture has a big effect on the climate change, since greenhouse gases are causing a big change in climate. If these new Agtech companies would create something that prevents climate to change, Agtech companies would be definitely a new trend in the stock market. In particular, I have purchased about eight companies’ stocks that focus their business on creating new values to agriculture with new technological inventions, and they are already climbing the market even if the market is slowed down by the pandemic crisis, so I think there would be a new trend soon.

  3. AppHarvest is yet another Tech startup that has decided to go public this year through a Special Purpose Acquisition Company. Who said pandemics were bad for equity markets? We’ve seen crazy valuations for these acquisitions, giving credibility to those yelling about the second coming of the 1999 tech bubble. AppHarvest seems to be no different, getting a $1 billion valuation with only 60 acres of greenhouses and without yielding its first harvest yet.
    Getting out of the weeds of equity valuations, we’ve seen tech enter every part of the economy, and agriculture is no exception. While American farmers can benefit from getting ultra-accurate data about their soil, crops, and environment, I see the third world benefitting the most from these innovations.
    I saw first hand what poor farming practices can do to countries when I lived in South Africa. Zimbabwe had massive crop failures, as a result of the lack of knowledge among local farmers, after a controversial, and sometimes violent, land reform initiative. It went from the “bread-basket of Southern Africa” to struggling to feed its population in less than a decade. By providing local farmers with data about their crops and how to optimally treat their soil, yields can skyrocket. And in the nick of time, as experts predict the population of Africa will double by 2050.
    Greenhouses would also allow crops to be grown anywhere, provided they can be powered. Just stick one of these things on the dry Arizona plains and you suddenly have yourself a farm. So this technology not only has the chance to improve yield per acre, it could also increase total acreage.

  4. The Agtech movement to me is both a look at an innovative future and a regret-filled window to the past. As Amy Wu puts it, “Agtech [is] the marriage of agriculture and technology”; a definition that I believe fits the concept quite well even though it’s fairly broad. In this case, I believe it works well because agriculture and technology are individually very broad ideas and a specific definition would overly contain the potential of Agtech. The recent investment and surge in interest are both motivating and disheartening. The investment in automation and efficiency has existed within other industries like manufacturing and transportation for decades but farming has been tacitly passed over, at least until the past few years. Farming is arguably one of the core competencies of the human race that has enabled the growth of our population into the billions yet, is ironically beginning to limit our optimism for growth and wellbeing as practices and efficiency remain largely unchanged.

    I feel that the reputation and activities of the investors including Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey, and Katy Perry suggest that AppHarvest is likely viewed as an unpredictable and untrusted venture that may be written off as a trend. This is unfortunate, as more stable investors such as agricultural or chemical supply companies would likely boost overall investment and signal a more serious opportunity for consistent future growth. This may be a cynical approach but I think a look at large-scale electric vehicle manufacturing startups may show similar trends in investment signaling. Rivian and Lucid were largely viewed as over-ambitious ventures with an extremely high likelihood of failure just a few years ago. Large-scale investments by the likes of Ford and Saudi Arabia’s foreign wealth investment fund solidified the seriousness of the companies in the face of media critique. I’m fearful that this Agtech movement and interest are likely a trend that will not truly become a movement until we’re on the verge of a tangible food crisis.

    The issue or agricultural deficiency has weighed on me since learning in a geology class about the plight of the Ogallala aquifer in the plains region of the United States. A recent study on the causes and effects of this depletion enumerates the risks and dangers of not regulating the usage of the water used to provide grain and produce for a large part of the world. Interestingly, this study concluded that even a 20% reduction in pumped water usage by farmers (i.e.) could prolong the aquifer’s lifespan by 100 years. One of the other commenters Prasann briefly touched on the importance of water conservation. I think protecting the water supply the feeds a large part of the world should be the primary concern of Agtech companies as well as general efficiency increases that would create upstream water savings in the production cycle of farmed goods. Amy Wu the author of the Forbes article does a great job of enumerating the challenges that Agtech needs to meet. Her research findings are somewhat concerning because they focus on the recent recognition of Agtech as a solution to issues that have been exacerbated by the demand effects of Covid and further limitations to an already dwindling workforce.
    Believing in Agtech and encouraging further investment could kickstart a true age of efficiency and growth if companies are willing to shell out the capital required. I would imagine that a farming future akin to the automated and computer planned farming and survey systems displayed in the Sci-Fi movie interstellar (minus the blight). I’m curious to see in the coming years how Agtech may succeed in addressing the production inefficiencies that currently plague the industry or simply meet a failure to launch at the hands of academic disinterest in much the same way that more efficient oil drilling systems remain unfunded in favor of virgin sources.

    Works Cited:
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/electric-car-startup-lucid-looks-to-challenge-tesla-with-new-air-sedan-11599679587
    http://duwaterlawreview.com/crisis-on-the-high-plains-the-loss-of-americas-largest-aquifer-the-ogallala/

  5. The Agtech movement to me is both a look at an innovative future and a regret-filled window to the past. As Amy Wu puts it, “Agtech [is] the marriage of agriculture and technology”; a definition that I believe fits the concept quite well even though it’s fairly broad. In this case, I believe it works well because agriculture and technology are individually very broad ideas and a specific definition would overly contain the potential of Agtech. The recent investment and surge in interest is both motivating and disheartening. The investment in automation and efficiency has existed within other industries like manufacturing and transportation for decades but farming has been tacitly passed over, at least until the past few years. Farming is arguably one of the core competencies of the human race that has enabled the growth of our population into the billions yet, is ironically beginning to limit our optimism for growth and wellbeing as practices and efficiency remain largely unchanged.

    I feel that the reputation and activities of the investors including Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey, and Katy Perry suggest that AppHarvest is likely viewed as an unpredictable and untrusted venture that may be written off as a trend. This is unfortunate, as more stable investors such as agricultural or chemical supply companies would likely boost overall investment and signal a more serious opportunity for consistent future growth. This may be a cynical approach but I think a look at large-scale electric vehicle manufacturing startups may show similar trends in investment signaling. Rivian and Lucid were largely viewed as over-ambitious ventures with an extremely high likelihood of failure just a few years ago. Large-scale investments by the likes of Ford and Saudi Arabia’s foreign wealth investment fund solidified the seriousness of the companies in the face of media critique. I’m fearful that this Agtech movement and interest are likely a trend that will not truly become a movement until we’re on the verge of a tangible food crisis.

    The issue or agricultural deficiency has weighed on me since learning in a geology class about the plight of the Ogallala aquifer in the plains region of the United States. A recent study on the causes and effects of this depletion enumerates the risks and dangers of not regulating the usage of the water used to provide grain and produce for a large part of the world. Interestingly, this study concluded that even a 20% reduction in pumped water usage by farmers (i.e.) could prolong the aquifer’s lifespan by 100 years. One of the other commenters Prasann briefly touched on the importance of water conservation. I think protecting the water supply the feeds a large part of the world should be the primary concern of Agtech companies as well as general efficiency increases that would create upstream water savings in the production cycle of farmed goods. Amy Wu the author of the Forbes article does a great job of enumerating the challenges that Agtech needs to meet. Her research findings are somewhat concerning because they focus on the recent recognition of Agtech as a solution to issues that have been exacerbated by the demand effects of Covid and further limitations to an already dwindling workforce.

    Believing in Agtech and encouraging further investment could kickstart a true age of efficiency and growth if companies are willing to shell out the capital required. I would imagine that a farming future akin to the automated and computer planned farming and survey systems displayed in the Sci-Fi movie interstellar (minus the blight). I’m curious to see in the coming years how Agtech may succeed in addressing the production inefficiencies that currently plague the industry or simply meet a failure to launch at the hands of academic disinterest in much the same way that more efficient oil drilling systems remain unfunded in favor of virgin sources.

    Works Cited:
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/electric-car-startup-lucid-looks-to-challenge-tesla-with-new-air-sedan-11599679587
    http://duwaterlawreview.com/crisis-on-the-high-plains-the-loss-of-americas-largest-aquifer-the-ogallala/

  6. In this Article the author describes this new type of industry, the Agtech industry. This is Agricultural Technology, and it has hit a big spike in innovation due to Covid. This spike has to do with the company Appharvest. This company, “is an agtech startup that builds high-tech greenhouses with innovations that support water and energy conservation, including what is may be the world’s biggest greenhouse.” (Forbes 1) This company released that they will be going through an impending IPO meaning that they are a private company soon going public and offering shares of their company on the stock market. The Article states that many big time investors have already started investing in the agtech industry. The article then asks a good question, could this be the new age of agtech as the next big corporation? As described in the article is, “Agtech, which developed over the past seven years, includes any technology or innovation created to help farmers operate more efficiently namely automation, robotics, sensors and data analytics.” This is in my mind is a great industry to invest in for the time being. While the rest of the industries may go up and down because of the current situation with the corona virus, the food and farming industry will always be needed equally. Since everyone was staying inside and buying more from the grocery stores, the food industry as well as the farming industry instead of dropping, either maintained or rose with the virus. This agtech industry is helping our farmers for the better and we will always need food no matter what. Forbes even states that, “The wave is in part driven by Covid-19, which has brought food to the forefront of global attention. The pandemic has spotlighted the need to access to fresh food along with big impact issues surrounding food safety and food waste. Growers, who once questioned the efficacy of agtech, are now seeking innovation to tackle problems such as severe labor shortage, water and land supply shortage and the loss of arable or farmable land.” This will help with world hunger as well as boost our economy here in America. The innovations of industries that are needed such as water, oil, air, or food, are always great bets for investors and I am sure that many will begin to invest soon. After reading into this new industry, I myself may have to invest in this new prominent industry.

  7. This article discusses the newest achievements of Agtech, as well as how the its rapid success was fueled in part by the COVID-19 pandemic. Agtech is a fusion of agriculture and technology, allowing for produce to grow healthier with an extended life. Farmers are especially important now more than ever because of the global pandemic. They are the ones who are charged with providing fresh produce and other foods to the entire global population, and growing so much food as quickly as possible. While this task has already proven to be a very difficult one, Agtech is shining brighter now more than ever before because of how well it is assisting farmers. The article specifically highlights AppHarvest, which is an agtech startup that builds high-tech, innovated greenhouses for the use of farmers. Through numerous studies, agtech farming has proven to solve many everyday issues that come with standard farming. What makes agtech so appealing is not only the fact that it can extend the life of its freshly-grown produce, but also the fact that it serves as an eco-friendly initiative as well. “The pandemic has laid bare the weaknesses of the current food and ag supply chain that can be addressed through innovation… Furthermore, there is recognition that ag can become more climate smart so there are large initiatives and investments dedicated to reducing the carbon footprint of food and ag production”.

    The article stresses that the global pandemic is actually helping the success of AppHarvest technology. Now more than ever, fresh food grown in a safe and healthy environment is in high demand. Because so many people desire to have fresh and healthy food readily accessible, people are searching for ways to innovate their farming methods to challenge common problems that may hinder their ability to grow food efficiently. The article itself states… “The pandemic has spotlighted the need to access to fresh food along with big impact issues surrounding food safety and food waste. Growers, who once questioned the efficacy of agtech, are now seeking innovation to tackle problems such as severe labor shortage, water and land supply shortage and the loss of arable or farmable land”. At first, people were skeptical about whether or not agtech was a safe or consistent method of growing produce because it seemed out of the ordinary to want to grow food any other way than what nature intended. However, with the growing demand for food directly caused by our global crisis, people are starting to find ways to innovate standard farming so that the growing/harvesting process becomes more efficient. This is what ultimately led to the rise of agtech recognition.

    I believe that agtech may be paving the way for the future of agriculture. As a business major, it’s great to see technology advance so much for the better. Now more than ever, businesses often struggle with advancing effective eco-friendly technology. That’s why seeing AppHarvest make such great use of agtech gives me hope that people can find new ways to innovate everyday jobs to solve global issues efficiently.

  8. AppHarvest is another Tech startup that has gone public. Agricultural Technology has hit a big spike in innovation due to Covid. This company builds high-tech greenhouses with innovations that support water and energy conservation, including what is may be the world’s biggest greenhouse. American farmers can benefit from getting ultra-accurate data about their soil, and crops. However the question goes around, is it safe or consistent method of growing produce. It is seemed to be out of the ordinary to want to grow food any other way than what nature intended. But it is proven this will help with world hunger as well as boost our economy here in America. Supplies and materials that are needed such as water, oil, air, or food, for growing crops will be used more efficiently and help preserve our world for as much as we can without wasting daily materials needed for living.

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