Originally appeared in TechCrunch InnerPlant grows with new John Deere-backed millions for sustainable farming
The world is headed for a food shortage by 2050 as its population increases, so anything to make it easier for farmers to grow food will go a long way.
That’s what InnerPlant founder and CEO Shely Aronov is trying to do with her startup that uses plant physiology to gather loads of data to make farming more efficient and sustainable. Or more simply, uses sensing and satellite technologies so plants can “talk” to their growers.
Shely Aronov and Rod Kumimoto started the Davis, California-based company in 2018 and spent much of the past four years in R&D mode developing genetically engineered crops that give off early “signals,” for example, of when they are thirsty, have a pest attack or need nitrogen so farmers can act quickly.
COMPANY PROFILE: INNERPLANT
Letting plants talk to the growers.
Funding to Date
Climate Challenge Speaker Series - Shely Aronov
InnerPlant’s Inner Circle has 75 farmers working about 400,000 acres.
Last October, InnerPlant hired Randy Shultz to head R&D. For over 15 years, he had previously held similar roles at Arcadia Biosciences, Inari and Monsanto.
The company also moved into a large laboratory early 2022, and “finally had the place to deploy capital,” Aronov said. Now the company will hire more people in R&D, data and engineering, business development, customer success and marketing.
Meanwhile, Deere & Co. is no stranger to innovation on the farm. Early this year, John Deere announced its self-driving tractors and its See & Spray targeted technology.
Than Hartsock, director of corn and soybean production systems for Deere & Co., told TechCrunch the investment in InnerPlant fit his company’s mission to help farmers be better at preparing their land and producing better crops through technology like precision application.
“Being able to give the plant what it needs, when it needs it, in many cases at the individual plant level, is the direction that our strategy is taking us,” he added. “Shely and our teams quickly found that our visions were very aligned. Our investment is a commitment to being part of understanding how a solution such as this could drive more efficiency in crop production. Getting ready to get rid of waste from the system ultimately will drive a more profitable, better outcome for the farmer.”