According to a Sept. 19 report from TechCrunch, InnerPlant — a startup recoding plant DNA, allowing the plant to emit a signal that can be detected remotely — recently completed $16 million in Series A funding, which included a contribution from John Deere.
InnerPlant co-founder and CEO Shely Aranov and Rod Kumimoto started InnerPlant in California in 2018, developing genetically engineered crops that give off early “signals,” for example, of when they are thirsty, have a pest attack or need nitrogen so farmers can act quickly. This technology would help farmers in their application and avoid crop losses due to pathogens.
InnerPlant is slated to launch its first soybean product in 2024 and will launch satellites for the plants to speak to next year.
“We now have a really efficient process to develop soybean traits, and we’re now working on the first commercial product which is the fungal detection of soybean sensors,” Aronov told TechCrunch. “We should have that in field trials next year, and then a soft launch with our Inner Circle members.” InnerPlant’s Inner Circle has 75 farmers working about 400,000 acres. These are a group of farmers that paid $500 early on in the company’s lifecycle to get access to products first.
Than Hartsock, director of corn and soybean production systems for Deere & Co., told TechCrunch, “Being able to give the plant what it needs, when it needs it, in many cases at the individual plant level, is the direction that our strategy is taking us. Shely and our teams quickly found that our visions were very aligned. Our investment is a commitment to being part of understanding how a solution such as this could drive more efficiency in crop production. Getting ready to get rid of waste from the system ultimately will drive a more profitable, better outcome for the farmer.”