Agtech Seedlings: BioLumic works to lower cattle emissions; Edible Garden levels up

By Staff
5 Min Read

Editor’s note: Agtech Seedlings is a weekly roundup of the latest in agriculture technology news, digging into venture funding, product announcements and other innovation milestones. Have news to share? Email us here.

Startup receives $3M to develop pasture that curbs cattle emissions

BioLumic, a startup that uses ultraviolet light treatments to improve plant traits, is expanding its research and development beyond food crops to pasture grass in order to reduce methane emissions from cattle.

AgriZeroNZ, a New Zealand-based joint venture, on Thursday announced a $3 million commitment to the effort, allowing BioLumic to apply its patented technology previously used on corn, soybeans and other crops to ryegrass. 

Studies show that animals with high-fat diets emit lower methane emissions. Increasing the fat content of ryegrass by 3% can reduce methane in cattle over 12%, according to a news release.

“There is a very real and very disruptive risk to our dairy and meat sectors from the need to reduce emissions but there is also a very real opportunity to stay among the most efficient producers of dairy products and meat in the world if we can get the right tools to farmers,” Wayne McNee, chief executive of AgriZeroNZ, said in a statement.

Founded in 2013, BioLumic uses light signaling to unlock improved growth, quality and health traits in a variety of plants. In addition to ryegrass, the company is experimenting with ways to reduce methane emitted by rice with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Edible Garden signals 200% earnings lift from cut herbs

Indoor produce company Edible Garden AG on Wednesday issued upbeat preliminary results for its first quarter, highlighting revenue increases of 40% from produce and more than 200% from cut herbs compared to last year.

Edible Garden has reported a 12-fold increase in herb production which they attribute to investments in equipment and infrastructure, along with the expansion of distribution to major retailers. 

“As we increase our production volume and leverage our fixed costs, we expect to benefit from improved margins and economies of scale,” CEO Jim Kras said in a statement.

This comes a couple weeks after Edible Garden posted fourth quarter revenue of $4.1 million for the three months that ended Dec. 31, 2023. This was a 33% increase from the previous year. 

However, Edible Garden, like other indoor agriculture competitors, continues to struggle with profitability. It posted a net loss of $3.1 million in the same period. 

This fertilizer tool could save farmers millions of dollars.

A team of U.S.-based agricultural scientists have launched a free online tool designed to assist farmers in making decisions about the fertilizer they apply to crops.

The Fertilizer Recommendation Support Tool, also referred to as FRST, can potentially save farmers millions of dollars each year by reducing the amount of phosphorus and potassium they need to apply to their land. 

In general, insufficient fertilizer results in lower crop yields, while excess application can negatively impact water quality and add to farmers’ expenses.

“Until now, soil fertility faculty in each state worked independently.” Deanna Osmond, a soil science researcher at North Carolina State University, said in a statement. “But for farmers who work across state lines, it’s difficult to compare or assimilate multi-state guidelines.” 

“Our goal is to improve the accuracy of nutrient recommendations through independent, scientifically developed nutrient management best practices that farmers can believe in and adopt,” Osmond added.

More than 100 soil science and agronomists from nearly 50 universities, four divisions of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, several not-for-profit organizations and one private sector partner collaborated on the project.

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