A variety of Silicon Valley funded start-ups are bringing a range of innovations to bear upon the US farm sector with the goal of improving technology at the start of the food chain and “enhance the earning power of those working the land.”

For example, Farmers Business Network (FBN) founded by Amol Deshpande (ex Kleiner Perkins) and Charles Baron (ex-Google) is a digital platform dubbed as “Google for farmers”. Farmers can log-on and find what seeds will help them make money (the FT article profiles one such happy farmer from South Dakota). FBN farmers pay $600 per annum for data on “efficacy and yields of various seeds, fertilisers and pesticides in different soil types and geographies, helping them make buying and planting decisions.”

Other agrotech start-ups are innovating elsewhere. David Perry co-founded Indigo, a Boston-based agricultural microbes start-up. “Indigo hunts out naturally occurring organisms such as bacteria and fungi to coat the seeds of grains to aid plant growth. It has also created what it calls “farmers ebay”, an online marketplace which matches buyers and sellers of grains and oilseeds.”

Inspite of the rising interest in this sector, since Monsanto’s near $1bn purchase of Climate Corporation in 2013, there have been only two other large transactions in the sector: DuPont’s purchase of farm software group Granular for $300m and tractor maker’s Deere & Co’s $305m deal to buy Blue River, a start-up that makes machine learning tools for the industry.

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