FarmLogs raises $22 million to make agriculture a more predictable business

Ann Arbor, Michigan-based FarmLogs has raised $22 million in a Series C round of funding for technology that helps farmers monitor and measure their crops, predict profits, manage risks from weather and pests and more. Naspers Ventures led the round, joined by the company’s earlier backers Drive Capital, Huron River Ventures, Hyde Park Venture Partners, SV Angel and individual investors including Y Combinator president Sam Altman.

According to CEO and co-founder of FarmLogs Jesse Vollmar, the company has invested heavily in satellite imagery and data since it graduated from the Y Combinator accelerator in 2012. It develops predictive models on top of that raw data to help farmers “program” their fields, Vollmar says.

“We analyze fields all around the U.S. all season long. We can highlight and alert farms when we see a problem developing, and send them out to examine and fix things they never would have caught on the ground. It’s all thanks to a multi-year history of performance satellite imagery,” he explained.

In one recent case, FarmLogs was able to help farmers who knew their neighbors were experiencing grasshopper infestations to pinpoint the bugs in their own massive operation, and stop the pests from spreading. In another typical case, FarmLogs users can see if an irrigation system has stopped working properly and part of their field is over- or under-watered, then go out and fix the system before washing away expensive inputs, like fertilizers or organic pesticides.

Vollmar grew up in a farming community and working for the family business, an organic corn farm. His company has focused on row crops, including corn and soybeans, which make up the bulk of agricultural production in the U.S. Vollmar said farmers like the company’s mobile app and website because it gives them access to data science without having to buy and install a bunch of new high-tech gear in their fields. FarmLogs works with all matter of data gathered from the farm equipment that agronomists do use, however, including tractors and other heavy equipment built by John Deere, Holland, Case Corporation and others.

FarmLogs, which employs about 70 full-time, plans to use the new round of capital for further hiring, and to make its technology known to even more row-crop farmers. With the funding round, Naspers Ventures’ head of U.S. investments, Mike Katz, will join FarmLogs board of directors.

The company’s main competition comes from Monsanto-owned Climate Corp. and its Climate FieldView application.