Software Is Feeding The World: Agriculture Startup Solum Raises $17M Led by Andreessen Horowitz

Solum, a startup building tools for a more data-driven approach to agriculture, has raised $17 million in Series B funding.

The round was led by Andreessen Horowitz, and partner John O’Farrell will be joining the Solum board. The company’s PR team sent me a copy of the blog post that O’Farrell has written about the funding, where he reveals that his team’s nickname for the startup was “Software Eats Dirt.” Solum isn’t just a software company, but I guess O’Farrell couldn’t resist echoing his partner Marc Andreessen’s famous editorial on “Why Software Is Eating The World“. (And as you can see from my headline, I couldn’t resist, either.) O’Farrell says Solum presents another opportunity for a Silicon Valley company to transform an industry:

“Solum’s platform enables farmers to correlate nutrient measurements and fertilizer application to actual yields, in a constantly improving feedback loop. Over time, the result for farmers should be a ‘virtuous circle’ of increasing crop yields driven by ever-smarter and environmentally sustainable use of fertilizer, water and other precious resources. In essence, Solum’s technology will provide the data to drive farmers’ new intelligent machines, and the software to manage their application on a large scale.”

The company has announced two measurement tools so far. There’s a lab kit that customers can take into the field to measure the nitrate in the soil. Solum also runs a laboratory in Ames, Iowa, where customers can send soil samples for multinutrient analysis. The data from both services is accessible via the Web.

It looks like Andressen Horowitz isn’t the only firm that thinks there’s room for big disruption in agriculture: Farmeron, which offers a SaaS tool for livestock production, recently raised $1.4 million.

Solum previously raised a $2.05 million Series A led by Khosla Ventures, which also participated in the new round. The company’s three co-founders all received Ph.Ds in Applied Physical from Stanford.