398 episodes

This show explores the people, companies, and ideas shaping the future of the agriculture industry. Every week, Tim Hammerich talks to the farmers, founders, innovators and investors to share stories of agtech, sustainability, resiliency and the future of food.

We believe innovation is an important part of the future of agriculture, and real change comes from collaboration between scientists, entrepreneurs and farmers. Lead with optimism, but also bring data!

For more details on the guests featured on this show, visit the blog at www.FutureOfAgriculture.com.

Future of Agriculture Tim Hammerich

    • Business
    • 4.8 • 245 Ratings

This show explores the people, companies, and ideas shaping the future of the agriculture industry. Every week, Tim Hammerich talks to the farmers, founders, innovators and investors to share stories of agtech, sustainability, resiliency and the future of food.

We believe innovation is an important part of the future of agriculture, and real change comes from collaboration between scientists, entrepreneurs and farmers. Lead with optimism, but also bring data!

For more details on the guests featured on this show, visit the blog at www.FutureOfAgriculture.com.

    FoA 424: Why Syngenta Is Investing In Soil Health With Matt Wallenstein

    FoA 424: Why Syngenta Is Investing In Soil Health With Matt Wallenstein

    Syngenta: https://www.syngenta.com/en
    [Soil Sense Podcast] Soil Health Assessment with Jordon Wade, Ph.D.
    FoA 364: Supporting Soil Health with Dr. Steve Rosenzweig and Dr. Abbey Wick [Soil Sense Crossover]
    Future of Agriculture 123: Nerding Out About Soil Health with Dr. Abbey Wick of North Dakota State University
    Future of Agriculture 162: Cannabis Inputs with Dr Colin Bell of Mammoth Microbes
    Really excited this week to bring Dr. Matt Wallenstein onto the show. Matt is the Chief Soil Scientist for Syngenta Group, where he leads their efforts to enable farmers around the world to improve their productivity and profitability through science-based innovation through soil health. Part of that team is my good friend and co-host of the Soil Sense podcast Dr. Abbey Wick, who you’ve heard on this show in the past. As well as Dr. Jordan Wade, who was a guest on a very fascinating episode of Soil Sense a year or so ago that I’ll have to link to in the show notes because it’s a great one. Anyway, so Matt’s putting together this dream team of soil scientists and I had to bring him on the show to figure out what I can about what they’re up to. 
    Prior to joining Syngenta in 2022, he was a professor and department head of Soil and Crop Sciences at Colorado State University. His research focused on how the soil microbiome interacts with plants and the environment. He also co-founded a startup called Growcentia, which commercialized a phosphorus solubilizing microbial consortia developed in his academic lab and went on to develop other biostimulants. A cool connection there is one of Matt’s co-founders at Growcentia was actually on this show five years ago. I didn’t know Matt at the time so that’s more of a coincidence than anything else, but that’s episode 165 if you want to find that deep track. 
    Anyway, i’ll drop you into today’s conversation when Matt is telling me what attracted him to this position, even though he already had a startup and a thriving career at Colorado State when he decide to make the leap two years ago to Syngenta. 

    • 39 min
    FoA 423: What Works On Your Farm? | Nick Cizek of FarmTest | Mike Castellano of Iowa Nitrogen Initiative

    FoA 423: What Works On Your Farm? | Nick Cizek of FarmTest | Mike Castellano of Iowa Nitrogen Initiative

    FarmTest: https://farmtest.ag/
    Iowa Nitrogen Initiative: https://www.agron.iastate.edu/portfolio/iowa-nitrogen-initiative/
    Today’s episode is a really unique concept and potential game-changer for how we think about on-farm technology, management practices and research. Historically, universities and agribusinesses would conduct randomized controlled trials for the best data on how products work. But these trials are limited on where they can take place and how many replications could take place, so when a farmer says “what about MY field and MY management?” it’s not surprising that the bottom line comes down to: your results might vary. But we don’t know for sure or by how much. 
    But with advancements in technology, why can’t every field include some sort of trial to understand how that product is performing? This has been done in the past with check strips that a farmer would plant as sort of a control, but this is far from precise or scientific. 
    It just so happens that Nick Cizek is a bit of an expert in precision measurement and experimentation design, and he has created in FarmTest a way from farmers, their advisors, input companies and researchers to run real experiments on farm without interfering with a farmers operation. They are essentially increasing the scientific rigor of on-farm trials while removing the hassle factor. And today we talk to Nick about that as well as a user of the product: Dr. Mike Castellano of Iowa State University and the Iowa Nitrogen Initiative which conducted 270 unique on-farm trials last year to analyze nitrogen applications. He says that current university nitrogen recommendations are very coarse and really only differ based on broad geographies and whether the crop is after corn or soybeans, but with this data they are already finding consistently predictable differences in fertilizer requirements based on other important factors like soil type, crop residue management, and drainage.
    This has big ramifications not just for research but for optimizing individual farm management practices and determining which inputs and technologies should be utilized and where and how much. Obviously this also could be very handy for input companies to more accurately represent their products because in agriculture the honest answer to “does it work?” is “it depends.” 
    Nick Cizek is an applied physicist specializing in precision measurement (Ph.D. Stanford). Before founding FarmTest in 2019, he worked for 4.5 years at The Climate Corporation / Monsanto / Bayer Crop Science. Specifically, he led teams designing and executing in-field trials to measure the performance of advanced nitrogen management systems. He initially joined Climate to help design and deploy a sensor network to collect local data to improve the value of their predictive agronomic optimization models. FarmTest envisions a future where all farms optimize their management practices based on statistically rigorous in-field performance data. 
    FarmTest builds software tools to automate on farm performance testing on commercial farms. We help researchers and growers design and analyze statistically robust field trials using commercial farm equipment. We make this easy by embedding product trials in variable rate prescriptions that account for all the nuances of each growing operation's fields, equipment, and management practices, and all the randomization, replication, and blocking needed for a statistically sound trial that produces a usefully small least significant difference.
    Dr Mike Castellano’s work aims to increase the productivity, profitability, and environmental performance of crop production. To achieve these outcomes, he uses a systems approach and strong...

    • 38 min
    FoA 422: Collaboration as a Business Strategy With Jeff Schreiner at Cultura Tech

    FoA 422: Collaboration as a Business Strategy With Jeff Schreiner at Cultura Tech

    Cultura Technologies: https://culturatech.com/
    Metal Dog Labs: https://www.metaldoglabs.ai/
    Software Is Feeding The World Newsletter: https://www.rhishipethe.com/sftw
    If there’s been a theme on this show over the past few months, it’s what does tech collaboration look like? Is it lip service or will it lead to real outcomes? You’ve heard from Lawrence King, Claudia Roessler, Mark Pendergrast, Jim Ethington and others all talking about this. Today, we hear from another leader who has proven experience in agtech collaboration, Jeff Schreiner. 
    Jeff is the senior vice president of global collaboration at Cultura Tech, a company that has acquired technology companies focused on agriculture across the value chain. Jeff is interviewed by Rhishi Pethe in today’s episode about collaboration, data, regulation, and the future of agriculture.

    • 37 min
    FoA 421: Decision-Grade Farm Data With Jim Ethington of Arable

    FoA 421: Decision-Grade Farm Data With Jim Ethington of Arable

    Headstorm: https://headstorm.com/
    AGPILOT: https://headstorm.com/agpilot/
    Arable: https://www.arable.com/
    FoA 256: Agtech Collaboration and Data-Driven Decision Agriculture with Jim Ethington of Arable
    Today's episode features Arable CEO Jim Ethington. Jim first appeared on this show on episode 256 back in 2021 and I was pleased to get a chance to sit down for a second interview with him in person at World AgriTech in March. 
    His background is impressive. Prior to joining Arable in 2018, he spent 10 years at The Climate Corporation where he was VP of Product and grew the company to 50 million paid acres and built a team from 10 to over 600 individuals. So he started at Climate in 2008 when they were still called Weatherbill and stayed with the company through the big acquisition in 2013 and for years after that. 
    So Jim has been thinking about the challenges and opportunities in digital agriculture for a long long time and it shows in the insights he shares in this episode. 
    If you’re not familiar with Arable, they are an ag technology company that provides data insights and recommendations to help farms be more productive and sustainable. Specifically they have created an intuitive system for farmers and agronomists to optimize irrigation, fertilizer applications and other important farm decisions. This is all based around their Arable Mark 3 device. 
    Jim is also one of the guests suggested by Lawrence King at Headstorm to give one of their client testimonials. Similar to Amie at Wilbur Ellis and Claudia at Microsoft, I wanted to make this one a full length episode because Jim is someone I wanted to have back on the show anyway to get an update on Arable and more of his insights on the future of ag. And he doesn’t disappoint. I’ll drop you into the conversation where he’s explaining the key insight from farmers that informs the work they do at Arable. 

    • 37 min
    FoA 420: Farmer-Driven Innovation With AgLaunch And Ag Ventures Alliance

    FoA 420: Farmer-Driven Innovation With AgLaunch And Ag Ventures Alliance

    Headstorm: https://headstorm.com/
    AGPILOT: https://headstorm.com/agpilot/
    Ag Ventures Alliance: https://agventuresalliance.com/
    AgLaunch: https://aglaunch.com/
    FoA 068: Farmers Investing in AgTech with Spencer Stensrude of Ag Ventures Alliance and Matthew Rooda of SwineTech
    FoA 117: Bridging the Gap Between AgTech Entrepreneurs and Farmers with Pete Nelson of AgLaunch
    Today's episode features Pete Nelson and Margaret Oldham from Aglaunch and Spencer Stensrude at Ag Ventures Alliance. If you’ve been a long time listener to this show - i mean a REALLY long time listener - you heard Spencer back on episode 68 in 2017 and Pete on episode 117 in 2018. I’ll link to both of those classics in the show notes. Since that time the two organizations have partnered together based on a shared mission of investing in farmer-led innovations. They each have unique aspects to their models, which i’ll let Pete, Margaret and Spencer describe to you. But they also are joining forces in a way to put the farmer at the center of investing in and incubating early stage agtech companies. 
    There are some really interesting points brought up in this conversation that I’ve been thinking about a lot since we recorded it a couple of months ago. Things like, should billion dollar unicorn exits be the measure of success for venture capital? Or number of viable lasting companies? Or maybe jobs and economic impact on communities? Is the fact that venture capital gets poured into so many businesses that fail a feature or a bug when it comes to advancing agriculture? And does the fact that we are in a commodity driven business mean that by definition, all of the value created by companies will eventually get squeezed out and extracted by low cost leaders? Some thought provoking questions that I think you’ll enjoy pondering as you listen to Spencer, Margaret, and Pete. 
    Spencer Stensrude invests at the intersection of transformational technology and agriculture. He is the CEO of Ag Ventures Alliance, which is a farmer-owned cooperative with a mission to increase farm profitability. They make venture capital investments in startups with a direct impact on farmers. Before joining AgVA, he started and operated some small businesses, invested in income-producing real estate, and worked in the commercial lending industry.
    Pete Nelson has been experimental farming, venture investing, and creating innovation hubs in agriculture with farmers across the US and Canada since 1997. He is currently co-founder and President of AgLaunch, a nationally recognized farmer-led innovation platform for advancing the next generation of agricultural technologies.
    Margaret Oldham is the Vice President of Innovation at AgLaunch. She is an experienced marketer and coach with a reputation for...

    • 49 min
    FoA 419: Laser Weeding And Growing A Robotics Company Toward An IPO With Paul Mikesell of Carbon Robotics

    FoA 419: Laser Weeding And Growing A Robotics Company Toward An IPO With Paul Mikesell of Carbon Robotics

    Headstorm: https://headstorm.com/
    AGPILOT: https://headstorm.com/agpilot/
    Carbon Robotics: https://carbonrobotics.com/
    Paul is the founder and CEO of Carbon Robotics. What Carbon Robotics is doing is novel and interesting in and of itself, and we’re going to talk a lot about that in today’s episode. But it’s important to note that Paul has a really impressive history of building technology companies outside of agriculture.
    Before starting Carbon Robotics, he co-founded Isilon Systems, a distributed storage company, in 2001. Isilon went public in 2006 and was acquired by EMC for $2.5 billion in 2010. In 2006, Paul co-founded Clustrix, a distributed database startup that was acquired by MariaDB in 2018. Immediately before Carbon, Paul served as Director of Infrastructure Engineering at Uber, where he grew the team and opened the company’s engineering office in Seattle, later focusing on deep learning and computer vision. 
    So in today’s episode we’re going to talk a lot about laser weeding, building a field robotics company, Paul’s views on artificial intelligence and where he sees applications for the tech in agriculture, and the challenges an opportunities ahead for carbon robotics and agtech in general. 
    I’ll drop you into the conversation where Paul is explaining his desire to jump from tech to agtech, and how that transition has been for him. 

    • 37 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
245 Ratings

245 Ratings

Dr. Ned French ,

Love FoA!

I continue to listen to Tim’s podcasts, because I can consistently count on interesting thought-provoking, and ag-relevant content. Tim is prepared, asks great questions, and keeps it meaningful. FoA is my go-to podcast for agriculture.

Doug Woolf ,

Great podcast on Agriculture

Really enjoyed listening to your guest on Teff. I am trying to eat healthier and just ordered some of the product. It was enjoyable to listen to here story about growing a different cash crop. I also enjoyed the podcast on growing food in the commercial buildings. Thanks for what you do to spread the news of great new business ideas in agriculture.

Britton Broderick ,

Keep up on what’s interesting in Agtech

Always enjoy listening to the show. A great way to get introduced to, and keep up with, innovation in agriculture. Approachable for those outside the industry, so we can better understand how we can continue to feed a growing planet. Especially enjoying the recent episodes on regenerative agriculture and other advances in sustainability.

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