Agtech seedlings: Fresh Del Monte to manufacture biofertilizer from pineapple waste

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.

Fresh Del Monte enters the biofertilizer market

Produce giant Fresh Del Monte announced a new initiative exploring whether food waste from its pineapple farms could be used in the production of more sustainable fertilizers.

The company will team up with Spain-based Vellsam Materias Bioactivas on a biofertilizer plant in Kenya near a Fresh Del Monte pineapple cannery. Residues from the cannery will be used to create biofertilizers for use and eventual sale in Kenya and East African countries.

“Fresh Del Monte is committed to creating a circular economy and is taking active measures to repurpose and reuse its residues,” said Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh, Fresh Del Monte’s chairman and chief executive officer. “We see this collaboration as a transformative turning point that has the potential to revolutionize how the agricultural industry farms.”

The plant is currently running tests and is set to be fully operational in June. The partnership creates a newly formed biofertilizer company called De l’Ora Bio, and the Kenya initiative represents the first step in the collaboration’s goal to expand production.

FarmRaise adds tech platform for companies to manage farm sustainability programs

Agtech startup FarmRaise, which automates the process of matching farmers to sustainability incentives, introduced a product for companies and institutions to better manage their agriculture climate programs.

The tech helps manage farmer enrollment in sustainability programs through a streamlined administrative dashboard, according to the announcement. The software is currently in use by Blue Diamond Growers and the University of Missouri, both recipients of climate-smart agriculture grants.

“FarmRaise developed a custom enrollment app that has allowed farmers to easily sign up for our $25 million climate-smart project through a phone, tablet, or computer,” Dr. Rob Myers, director of the University of Missouri’s Center for Regenerative Agriculture, said in a statement.

FarmRaise modernizes the application process for farmers to access loans and grants that support the transition to more sustainable production practices. The platform shows farmers programs they’re eligible for and streamlines the federal and state paperwork into a single application.

FMC to leverage AI in product discovery

Agricultural sciences firm FMC has entered a collaboration with software developer Optibrium to accelerate the discovery of new crop protection products.

FMC will utilize Optibrium’s Cerella and StarDrop technologies to enhance molecular discovery and further internal research and development. The agreement is part of the crop science company’s strategic plan to accelerate the commercialization of new products.

“Our collaboration with Optibrium marks a pivotal moment in crop protection research,” Dr. Seva Rostovtsev, FMC executive vice president and chief technology officer, said in a statement. “By integrating AI into our R&D efforts, we aim to revolutionize how we develop sustainable solutions for farmers and ultimately enhance global food security.”

Seed innovator Benson Hill taps Growers Edge CEO as general counsel

Agtech firm Benson Hill named fintech executive Dan Cosgrove chief administrative officer and general counsel as the seed innovation company transitions to an “asset-light” model.

Cosgrove will handle Benson Hill’s day-to-day operations around business development, compliance, and legal matters. His appointment was effective May 10 and comes as Chief Legal Officer Yevgeny Fundler steps down to pursue other opportunities.

Cosgrove was previously CEO of Growers Edge, which provides data insights and lending solutions to agricultural retailers. He also held key roles at Corteva Agriscience/DuPont Pioneer, helping lead the seed company’s expansion and licensing approach.

“While business development anchors Dan’s impressive skillset, his global intellectual property and licensing expertise will be pivotal as we pursue value-chain partnerships,” Benson Hill CEO Deanie Elsner said in a statement. “His appointment is an important step in our strategy to serve large-scale soy markets through seed innovations that deliver better feed, better food and better fuel.”

Benson Hill recently divested an Iowa soy processing facility as the company transitions to a licensing revenue model. The company is focused on expanding its seed portfolio and partnerships with distributors to accelerate commercialization of its innovative soybean varieties.

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