BASF Venture Capital GmbH (BVC) is investing WayBeyond, an IoT and SaaS company that aims to enhance crop yields, crop quality, and grower profitability for low-to-mid tech controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) operations. The use of CEA to cultivate fruits and vegetables is gaining popularity globally, and WayBeyond’s data capture, farm management, and prediction tools are transforming the industry. In addition, WayBeyond’s FarmRoad platform, which uses crop-contextual AI for seed efficacy and quality transformation, is utilized in partnership with seed producers. BASF Venture Capital GmbH’s Managing Director, Markus Solibieda, says that WayBeyond is well-positioned to revolutionize how CEA farmers grow crops that will feed our growing population.
“We are delighted to have BASF Venture Capital as an investor. As a strategic VC fund, they are in a special position to appreciate WayBeyond as a disruptive business model. We are perfectly aligned with the vision of a digitally empowered, sustainable agricultural industry that will benefit the seed and crop protection providers. Together, we are focused on supporting farm operators and growers,” said Darryn Keiller, Founder and CEO of WayBeyond.
The global population is projected to rise, and concerns over food shortages are driving growers to decrease the environmental impact of their operations. With a focus on digitally empowered and sustainable agriculture, BVC and WayBeyond are aligned in their vision to provide vast benefits to seed and crop protection providers. WayBeyond helps growers visualize their operations and provides agronomic recommendations to optimize yield and quality. Neal Okarter, Investment Manager at BVC in Los Angeles, California, notes that BVC and WayBeyond work together to support farm operators and growers. As a result, BVC and WayBeyond are creating a more sustainable future for the agricultural industry.
Balancing Profitability and Sustainability in Controlled-Environment Agriculture
The controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) market has recently experienced a wave of bankruptcies and failures, which has led to concerns about the industry’s long-term viability. One factor contributing to this trend is the high cost of setting up and running CEA operations. The capital investment required to build and maintain these facilities can be significant, and the operational costs can also be high. Additionally, there is significant competition in the market, which can put pressure on profit margins. As a result, some companies may have overextended themselves or failed to manage their finances, leading to bankruptcy or failure adequately. Another factor is the technical complexity of CEA operations, which can require specialized knowledge and expertise to operate successfully. In some cases, companies may have lacked the necessary expertise or experience to run their operations effectively, leading to poor performance or failure.
In recent years, data analytics, AI, machine learning, and other cutting-edge technologies have become increasingly popular among companies in the controlled-environment agriculture market. These technologies offer a range of benefits, including improved efficiency, reduced waste, and enhanced profitability. By utilizing these tools, companies can gain valuable insights into their operations, allowing them to optimize their processes and increase crop yields. Additionally, these technologies can help companies meet retail price expectations and remain competitive. With the availability of innovative solutions, companies are exploring ways to enhance their operations and achieve better outcomes.
Controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) is a resource-intensive farming method, as it requires a significant amount of energy, water, and other resources to maintain optimal crop-growing conditions. The use of artificial lighting, heating, and cooling systems, as well as humidity and airflow control, all contribute to the high energy consumption of CEA facilities. In addition, the high cost of building and maintaining CEA facilities, coupled with the need for specialized knowledge and expertise to operate them, can be a prohibitively expensive option for some growers. Furthermore, relying on water for irrigation can strain already limited resources in some areas, particularly in regions with water scarcity. While CEA has the potential to improve the sustainability of agriculture by reducing the environmental impact of traditional farming methods, companies need to consider the resource requirements of these operations and explore ways to minimize their impact on the environment. This includes investing in renewable energy sources and improving water management practices to reduce waste and conserve resources.