$7M Investment from Bushel Boosts Digital Platform for Grain Industry
Bushel, which provides a software platform that allows grain elevators, cooperatives, and ethanol plants to digitally connect with their growers for real-time information and payments, has announced a $7 million private investment round. This funding follows an initial $1.5 million round raised last June through private investors in the agriculture and software industries. The funding will be used, in part, for research and development, and the evaluation of strategic acquisition opportunities.
“This investment will allow us to continue the acceleration of Bushel’s product roadmap, while continuing to onboard and serve grain facilities on the Bushel platform,” Jake Joraanstad, Bushel CEO and co-founder said in a press release.
Launched in June 2017, more than 20,000 growers from more than 400 elevator and ethanol plant locations in the U.S. and Canada now have access to Bushel-powered apps. The cloud-based platform incorporates a wide variety of technologies that power real-time scale tickets, contracts, pre-pays, cash bids, e-sign and more. It is powered by a proprietary translator developed by Myriad Mobile, an enterprise software technology company.
The Promise of Precision
After years of bumper crops and significantly lower commodity prices have caused farmers’ margins to disappear, the promise that digital ag platforms can provide farmers with higher returns per acre is an attractive offer, and one that larger multi-nationals are looking to capitalize upon.
The most notable such deal occurred in October 2013 when Monsanto acquired The Climate Corp. for $930 million. The deal expanded its Integrated Farming Systems for Monsanto, which at the time, stated that data science, “represents the agriculture sector’s next major breakthrough.”
Then, in May 2017, The Climate Corp. itself announced that it was further strengthening its position in the digital space, when it agreed to acquire Denver, Colorado-based HydroBio - a digital platform that uses a combination of satellite imagery, soil data, and hyper-local weather data to provide insights to farmers regarding irrigation and the efficient use of water through the company’s data-driven irrigation management platform. Subsequently, in August of 2017, DuPont Pioneer acquired digital farm management platform start-up Granular in a deal reported to be valued at $300 million.
Although digital and precision ag companies account for the largest portion of agtech deals by numbers, according to Arama Kukutai, co-founder and partner at Finistere Ventures, he acknowledged that the rate of farmer adoption remains to be seen, and notes in a piece published in GAI News in April 2016 that the benefits must be clear.
“...be it irrigation, on-farm automation or fertilizer application—it is paramount to demonstrate economic utility, as well as improved functionality or ease of use,” notes Kukutai. “Whether it is time and efficiency created through automation, access to mobile platforms that can be used in the field, or ubiquitous data access, improved functionality is a key feature of precision Ag for the farmer."