Google is investing in a computerized farming network that uses data to help farmers increase their productivity and save money.
The network is called Farmers Business Network Inc., and it recently closed a $15 million investing round led by Google’s venture capital division. The company intends to spend the money to expand its field analysis service to collect data on seeds and soil in more states and crops.
Currently, the network covers 7 million acres of cropland in 17 states, mostly in the Midwest. It analyzes 16 crops including corn, soybeans and wheat.
The company uses computer systems to evaluate public and private data on crop yields, weather patterns and planting practices and then sells advice to farmers on how to increase their yields and cut wasteful spending.
Farmers can join Farmers Business Network for $500 per year. They then can submit their farms’ data on past crop yields, which seeds were planted, fertilizer use and other information. The company standardizes its data and analyzes it based on data from other farmers and the company’s own database. The farmer then receives an analysis that shows how that farm’s crops performed compared with other farms working with similar soils and seeds, along with suggestions on changes to planting and crop rotation.
The company also is developing tools to evaluate pesticide and fertilizer use.
Google Ventures Invests in Agricultural Technology Startup