Venture Firms Seed Farm-Tech Startups


Iowa farmer Jason Rouse adjusts the Farmobile data-collection device in his combine. Information gathered in real time allows farmers to monitor operations and fine tune decisions. PHOTO: SARAH HOFFMAN FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNALfor The Wall Street Journal

Venture capital firms toting cash from agricultural heavyweights Monsanto Co.MON +0.65%, Syngenta AGSYNN.VX +1.58% and Rabobank Group this week sunk tens of millions of dollars into farm-focused technology startups.

The startups, Blue River Technology and Farmobile LLC, are among a raft of companies that aim to transplant data-crunching techniques and low-cost hardware from Silicon Valley to the Farm Belt, pitching equipment and services that can help farmers raise bigger crops while using less fuel and chemicals.

Stalwart agribusiness giants like Monsanto, DuPont Co.DD -1.04%, Deere and Co.DE -1.78% and Cargill Inc. are developing their own computer-powered farming services for farmers, eyeing a business some executives say could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in sales by the end of the decade. Some of these companies, through venture capital arms, are also investing in startups pursuing similar technology to help spot opportunities and tools the big firms don’t have in-house.

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Write to Jacob Bunge at Follow him on Twitter at@jacobbunge

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