Upstream Ag Professional - August 20th 2023
Essential research and analysis for agribusiness leaders.
Welcome to the 5th edition of Upstream Ag Professional!
Index for the week:
Solinftec and the Solix Autonomous Platform: Reimagining Farming from First Principles
The Mosaic Company Unveils Mosaic Biosciences™ to Expand Offerings in Plant Health: How is Mosaic set up to compete in the biological space?
Yara Capital Markets Day 2023 Highlights and Analysis
Sound Agriculture Releases Software Package to Democratize Epigenetic Data in Plant Breeding
Yard Stick Raises $10.6M for Soil Carbon Measurement Technology
Q2 2023 Agribusiness Earnings Highlights and Analysis
It’s Time to Digitally Connect the Supply Chain
John Deere Q3 2023 Results
Will the Convergence Between Artificial Intelligence and Precision Agriculture Lower Farming Costs?
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1. Solinftec and the Solix Autonomous Platform: Reimagining Farming from First Principles - Upstream Ag Professional
Whether you are an agribusiness professional in ag retail, crop input manufacturing, equipment manufacturing or digital agriculture, the Solix platform should be on your radar. The Solix has the potential to displace the sprayer as we know it, change how crop protection manufacturers go to market, and offers an avenue for retailers to create new services for their customers.
Closing the digital agriculture loop: Sensing—Diagnosing—Acting and then what? What has been missing, and how are key players positioned?
Plus an explanation of first principles and what agriculture and Solinftec can learn from the tire industry thinking through concepts from The Wide Lens by Ron Adner.
In August of 2022, Solinftec announced a new product offering, the Solix.
The Solix is a solar-powered autonomous platform that is not only equipped with cameras to acquire data about the field but also equipped with the capability to spray— specifically weeds that it identified within the crop.
In April of 2023, Solinftec announced the Hunter, further features for the Solix platform, this time equipping the platform with the capabilities to lure, detect and eradicate insects autonomously using a specific light frequency.
The crazy part about this robotics platform is that it only travels at one mph— a far cry from the expectations that a piece of spray machinery has to travel at 12-16mph to be considered efficient throughout the industry today. My immediate question was:
What is their train of thought with this?
Solinftec has fascinated me for a few years— first, they were a logistics software company working to optimize equipment efficiency and workflow for ag retails to sugar cane processors, and now they were shifting to an autonomous equipment manufacturing company.
I reached out to Solinftec in June to see if they would be open to giving me a demonstration of their Solix platform, and they generously allowed me to join their team for a day in early August, sharing a demonstration of the Solix platform in a field in southern Indiana where I had the opportunity to talk with their engineers, product teams and executive leaders about what they have built and how they will progress it in the future.
What stands out to me, and why I think you should care as an agribusiness professional, is that Solinftec’s new concept can potentially displace the sprayer as we know it, change how crop protection manufacturers go to market, and establish new services for retailers.
The shift could impact the entire ag value chain. Understanding their approach and technology is valuable no matter where you operate in the ag value chain.
This deep dive includes the following:
Farming from First Principles
Stand Alone Sensing to “Living in the Field”
The Solix Platform Specs
The Solinftec Go-to-Market Strategy and Ag Retail
Go-to-Market and Input Manufacturers
Impact on Equipment Manufacturers
Appendix including pictures and videos of the Solix Unit
Related: Ecorobotix Brings ARA Precision Spot-Sprayer to US Market - No-Till Farmer
Mosaic renames its biological division to Mosaic Biosciences.
The biological market is “new” for Mosaic, but they are better positioned than any entity today because of their agronomic strength and the experience building in the MircoEssentials market.
The stark contrast of Mosaic CEO Joc O’Rourke’s positioning of biologicals compared to Corteva CEO Chuck Magro.
The Mosaic Company announced today the formation of the Mosaic Biosciences™ platform, a global initiative to bring the latest science and innovation to the agriculture market. The technologies from Mosaic Biosciences enhance crop health and support the natural biology in plants and soil, ultimately maximizing the yield potential of every field.
In February of 2022, Mosaic purchased Plant Response to officially enter the realm of biological crop inputs. Mosaic also has collaboration agreements in place with the likes of Bioconsortia.
Plant Response was a roll-up of biological-based crop inputs and technologies, including Koch Biological Solutions (2019), Pathway BioLogic (2020), and WISErg (2021). Their portfolio consisted of 16 commercialized products at the time of acquisition.
This week Mosaic renamed its biological division to Mosaic Biosciences.
I have talked about the emerging overlap of crop protection and seed companies into the realm of fertilizer and plant nutrition companies multiple times within Upstream. Crop protection companies like Corteva have begun moving into the world of fertility, and biologicals for years now, a non-core area for them, whereas fertilizer companies have a more natural extension into the realm of biologicals along with plant and soil health.
When Mosaic purchased Plant Response, they had products commercially targeted at “biocontrol,” or what we might call a biofungicide or bioinsecticide, something that would be an unnatural product extension for Mosaic. It wasn’t clear what Mosaic would do with those assets.
Based on the release, it appears they have moved those aside to focus on areas that augment their crop nutrition core:
Mosaic Biosciences is building a pipeline of new biologic products to drive improvements in plant health, stress management, nutrient uptake, and crop yield.
A smart move and consistent with where I think they should be focusing. In 2020 I broke down a Mosaic Analyst Day and stated their likely route in this space was the following:
In the future when it comes to partnerships and investments from Mosaic we should see them prioritize some more focus around biostimulants and nutrient solubilizing specialty products - supporting soil and plant health and nutrient use efficiency of fertilizers.
Mosaic is a mining company at its core. But they are no stranger to developing markets for premium products, becoming leaders in crop nutrition and creating immense value for their shareholders and for the industry through their specialty phosphorous and potassium lines, MicroEssentials and Aspire.
According to their Q2 2023 earnings call, once their Riverview plant capacity is expanded at the end of this year, ~50% of their North American annual phosphate sales volumes will be comprised of value-add products (MicroEssentials was 43% in 2022)— including MicroEssentials and their new MicroEssentials Pro line-up, which works to increase nutrient uptake efficiency of P, S, and micronutrients.
Their focus on premiumizing a commodity market has been lucrative too.