Vancouver-based AgTech firm Terramera has created a new business that will focus specifically on soil composition analysis.
According to Terramera, EnrichAg will provide cheaper, faster, and more accurate soil composition analysis than current methods, helping farmers better understand their soil health and reduce fertilizer costs.
Terramera plans to explore the creation of more subsidiaries focused on specific agricultural industry issues.
In an interview with BetaKit, Terramera founder and CEO Karn Manhas described the launch of EnrichAg as “an evolution in Terramera’s history.”
Going forward, Terramera plans to explore the creation of more subsidiaries focused on applying its research and tech to solve other sizeable issues facing farmers, and the company is currently fundraising to support these efforts. “There are so many things that we can do with Terramera’s intellectual property and technology stack,” said Manhas.
Founded in 2010, Terramera provides a variety of solutions to the agricultural industry designed to reduce the use of synthetic pesticides, increase crop resiliency, predictability and quality, support regenerative agronomy, and measure the carbon in soil.
According to Manhas, EnrichAg will function as an independent, autonomous subsidiary of Terramera and remain majority-owned by the larger AgTech firm. Manhas said Terramera has already appointed a CEO for EnrichAg, but declined to disclose the individual’s identity, stating the firm will reveal the name at a later date.
EnrichAg has already secured $6 million USD in equity funding from San Francisco-based climate tech VC firm At One Ventures. This financing represents the first close of a planned $15 million seed round Terramera expects EnrichAg to complete in early 2023. EnrichAg intends to use this capital to fuel the launch of its first product, EnrichSoil.
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Consisting of both hardware and software, EnrichSoil will measure soil composition. The platform will be powered by Terramera’s Intelligence Engine, novel sensing technology, computational chemistry, machine learning, and IP portfolio.
Manhas described soil as “the foundation of agriculture and our food system.” But according to the CEO, farmers today lack the tools necessary to precisely understand fertility levels in their fields, and soil analysis and tracking methods haven’t changed in decades. “We have too little understanding of this critical resource,” he added.
In modern farming, some of the processes that have sped up the food production process have led to a greater loss of topsoil, which has become a growing issue. “It’s an existential threat to us,” said Manhas, adding that from a business standpoint, measuring soil health more accurately and efficiently—towards the goal of improving it—also represents “a huge opportunity.”
Starting with just EnrichAg and soil, Terramera sees room to use the firm’s IP and tech to create more subsidiaries focused on other large, specific problems impacting the agricultural industry.
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At One Ventures founding partner Tom Chi, a long-term advisor to Terramera, believes that, “by making soil testing cheaper, faster, and 100x more accurate, enrichSoil will provide immediate actionable information that can improve profitability while restoring soil health.”
In the case of EnrichAg, given the size of the problem the company aims to address, Manhas said Terramera decided a subsidiary rather than another Terramera product represented the best vehicle for getting the company’s tech out into the world, “rather than having one company and one team trying to do all of these different things.”
Terramera claims that EnrichSoil, which EnrichAg hopes to roll out on a commercial basis later this year, will be the first solution that enables farmers and agronomists to self-test the level of nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and carbon in soil.
EnrichAg has already launched its alpha product in strategic partnership with a large, undisclosed regenerative agricultural network. The company is also currently working on its beta, with an initial limited commercial launch slated for sometime in 2023.
Feature image courtesy Terramera.