Upstream Ag Professional - September 17th 2023
Essential research and analysis for agribusiness leaders.
Welcome to the 9th Edition of Upstream Ag Professional!
Index for the week:
Technological Revolutions and Learning Curves in AgTech: Investment Notes: Azaneo
Problems Being Solved, Not Technologies Being Used
Indigo Ag Accelerates Proven Sustainability Programs for Farmers and Agribusinesses with $250 Million Fundraise
The Economics of Spot Sprays
InnerPlant Secures $300K from United Soybean Board
MyLand, Soil Health Innovator Secures $23 Million in Series B Funding
Bioceres Crop Solutions Reports fiscal fourth quarter and full year 2023 Results
All-In Summit: Bill Gurley presents 2,851 Miles
Thank you for your continued support as Upstream Ag Professional members!
1. Technological Revolutions and Learning Curves in AgTech: Investment Notes: Azaneo - Tenacious Ventures
Azaneo is a pre-commercial company using pulsed electrification to eliminate weeds.
Electric weeding has been around for years with little commercial success to date. Azaneo has the goal to be more precise and lower energy than other options out there. This is technology companies learning from those before them and reminiscent of how successful tech companies in the mid-late 2000s learned from companies that went bust in the Dot Com Bubble.
We do not have the required investment to be at the “installation” phase yet with electric weeding, and it will be a while before we see any significant in-roads.
Azaneo is developing an agricultural appliance that uses pulsed electrification to manage weeds without the use of chemical inputs. Their novel electrical approach will involve far lower GHG emissions than current herbicides or existing non-chemical alternatives. It also operates directly on the target weed, eliminating the risk of spray drift and ecological damage.
We are proud to lead Azaneo’s pre-seed investment round of AUD$1.4m alongside global co-investors Agfunder and IP Group.
Azaneo is a company working on electric weeding. Plenty of companies have aimed to do the same over the last several years, including Root Wave, crop.zone, and The Weed Zapper.
The efforts surrounding electric weed control are not surprising.
Weed control is still one of the most important considerations of every farmer, every year, in every crop. And herbicide resistance continues to grow every year:
Source: Dr. Ian Heap, WeedScience.org
Plus, the demand for less synthetic pesticides and more environmentally friendly alternatives continues to grow.
These realities drive investment and interest in the electric weeding space.
It’s important to note that this is a pre-seed investment, meaning Azaneo has ideas and concepts for a product along with some greenhouse proof of concept with their technology, but they are not commercial yet. They have a long way to go.
In talking with Tenacious Ventures about the investment, what stood out to me was Azaneo’s focus on the “destruction” aspect— being incredibly good at delivering a precise, high efficacy, low energy means to kill weeds. This means no effort on the AI component of what I’ll call “Seek and Destroy” (vs. see and spray… Metallica-inspired) with electric weeding to identify weeds. They would instead look to partners for that aspect. I think this is smart for the early part of their business; however, I have talked extensively about my views of integrated tech stacks. In the instance of Azaneo, it might say more about their future in being acquired (e.g.: integrated into a Solinftec unit) if their technology works out.
I can’t help but think about some of the challenges with not only a commercial electric product to date in the electric weeding world but also other practical challenges like fire risk, human danger, speed that the units can go, and the energy requirements of the systems— areas Azaneo is working on.
For example, many other companies use thermal energy to eliminate weeds with either gas or diesel generation. The energy requirements for this are astronomical. From Weed Technology: