An LA Times OpEd piece highlights the incredibly poor water conditions in California.
“As our “wet” season draws to a close, it is clear that the paltry rain and snowfall have done almost nothing to alleviate epic drought conditions. January was the driest in California since record-keeping began in 1895. Groundwater and snowpack levels are at all-time lows. We’re not just up a creek without a paddle in California, we’re losing the creek too.
Data from NASA satellites show that the total amount of water stored in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins — that is, all of the snow, river and reservoir water, water in soils and groundwater combined — was 34 million acre-feet below normal in 2014. That loss is nearly 1.5 times the capacity of Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir.
Statewide, we’ve been dropping more than 12 million acre-feet of total water yearly since 2011. Roughly two-thirds of these losses are attributable to groundwater pumping for agricultural irrigation in the Central Valley. Farmers have little choice but to pump more groundwater during droughts, especially when their surface water allocations have been slashed 80% to 100%. But these pumping rates are excessive and unsustainable. Wells are running dry. In some areas of the Central Valley, the land is sinking by one foot or more per year.”
“According to CleanTech Group, which connects corporations with innovation via an online platform called i3, corporate and venture equity investment in the agriculture and food space increased 29 percent between the second and third quarters of 2014, with a total of $239 million invested — a 48 percent increase since the same time the previous year.”
As a $46 billion per year industry in California alone, agriculture has attracted the attention of the Silicon Valley. Technologies are regularly being developed to allow farmers to farm more efficiently, increase production, access new markets and capture useful data. Agri-tech or “AgTech” touches numerous technologies, including software, cleantech, big data and robotics, and the venture community has started to support this new sector with investment. Join us for a one hour discussion of this new field, including trends and opportunities in AgTech with a panel of experts from farming, technology and finance.
Selected excerpts from Rob LeClerc’s recent post on AgFunder News:
“AgTech did not receive much attention from venture capital prior to 2012. Investment in 2012 was around $150M – and then it exploded to $1.8 B in 2014. Investment momentum is continuing into 2015. Much of this investment is in the same technology that has investors fired up in Silicon Valley – software, drone technology, IOT, big data, life sciences, and mobility.”
“Many farmers use consultants or ag extension agents, and you will get farthest if you can be recommended by one of them.”
“Hot Areas of Current Investment
This is the area creating the most buzz in Silicon Valley, and the one with the biggest potential to be disruptive. It encompasses many technologies and crosses numerous steps in the value chain such as genetic engineering, information technology, drones, sensors, and smart machinery. Data and analytical systems can inform decision-making and make more sustainable and profitable use of land. It is also an area getting quickly saturated.
Analytics engine at core The biggest challenge and most value-add will be to take all that data generated from multiple sources and turn it into information that a farmer can use to make informed decisions through real-time data coalition, analytics, and decision support tools. The nonaggregated data is noise. The power (and returns) will be with those who have the analytics engine. Monsanto is certainly moving in that direction with Climate Corp. The other majors are doing the same. The aggregator must have access to growing systems, farms, infrastructure, and channel, and understand how they work.
Technologies that feed into the analytics engine
Many start-ups are developing supporting technology for the analytics engine – drones, sensors, software, machinery, hardware. Many of these technologies will end up being commoditized in the future but they need investment now. There are good returns to be made in their development.”
<p>Recent list of top 5 trends in agriculture show Technology Adoption and Big Data in the lead.</p>
<p>This is exactly why FarmX is bringing you the <a href=”https://farmx.co/farmmap/”>FarmMap</a>.</p>
<p>“January is typically a natural time to reflect on the past and consider the future. Dwight Koops, president of Kansas-based Crop Quest, spent some time thinking about which trends in agriculture he thought would matter most in 2015 and beyond. Here are his top five.</p>
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<p>1. <strong>Technology adaptation</strong>. “This almost can’t be avoided,” Koops says. “Technology is being inserted into the base model of almost everything required to put a crop in the ground, and harvested.”</p>
<p>2. <strong>Big data</strong>. Big data is still a buzzword – and rightly so – but the challenge right now is figuring out how to get this data to work for a farmer at the local level, he adds.</p>
<p>“Converting data to actionable solutions is what needs to happen to make all this technology worth the investment,” he says. “Without solutions, just viewing data is pretty much worthless. This process takes a tremendous amount of time, filled with frustrations, trial and error. But when data becomes actionable, ti becomes very powerful and worth the effort.”</p>
<p>Bob Gore, a writer for techwire, suggests that <a href=”https://www.techwire.net/6-trends-shaping-agricultural-technology-2015/”>precision agriculture may even become a mandatory practice in the future</a>.</p>
<p>“Precise as in timing, location, amount and compliance reporting,” he says. “Grasp the potential here? Especially for integration and real-time data flow.”</p>
<p><a href=”https://farmx.co/farmmap/”><img class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-25″ src=”https://farmxnews.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/cropped-cropped-farmx_logo2-small.png” alt=”cropped-cropped-farmx_logo2-small.png” pagespeed_url_hash=”3238830421″ onload=”pagespeed.CriticalImages.checkImageForCriticality(this);” width=”288″ height=”75″></a></p>
FarmX, along with nine other ventures, participated in the three-month Village Capital Agriculture: Louisville 2014 accelerator program that worked to address challenges in the agriculture sector. Throughout the program, the entrepreneurs received mentoring from industry experts and potential investors.