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Farmers Edge raises C$58m to expand internationally

After expanding into the US, Brazil and Australia in 2015, the precision agri company is looking to build a permanent office in Russia.

Canadian agri data company Farmers Edge has raised C$58 million ($41.4 million; €37.8 million) from existing investors for international expansion efforts.

Japanese trading company Mitsui & Co participated in this round, and general manager Kenji Otake will join the Farmers Edge board of directors. Other returning investors were Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers’ (KPCB) Green Growth Fund and Osmington.

Farmers Edge, formed in 2005, sells hardware, software and analytics products aimed at increasing farm yields by allowing growers to collect and evaluate data on virtually all aspects of their farm, from soil health to equipment output and fuel use.

Farmers Edge opened a US headquarters in Minnesota in July 2015 and had spread into eight states, Brazil and Australia by the end of 2015. Its chief executive, Wade Barnes, told Agri Investor  the company plans to open its first permanent office in Russia as soon as February.

The latest funding round will go toward fund these expansion efforts, as well as expanding the company’s data and agriculture science teams, said Barnes.

Barnes said his company’s advantage in the burgeoning precision agri field lies in the broad expertise of its people.

“Generally, in precision ag, you’re one of three things. You’re in agronomy, you’re in software or you’re a grower. We’re all three,” he said. “Farmers tend to want a one-stop shop.”

According to PEI Research and Analytics and information provided by Mitsui & Co, the company had roughly $1.64 billion deployed in 2014, in a diversified private equity portfolio that includes IT, natural resources, chemical and transportation infrastructure sectors.

Mitsui first invested in Farmers Edge in May 2015, adding the company to an agri portfolio that includes investments along the value chain.

“Mitsui is responsible for the procurement of 17.5 million tons of food resources each year, including grains, corn and soybeans, and we are committed to increasing those levels, in a sustainable manner, as global population rises,”  Otake said in a statement.

The Green Growth Fund was launched by venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 2008 with $500 million to deploy in environmentally sustainable and socially responsible investments, according to KPCB’s website. The fund first invested in Farmers Edge in 2014.

“There’s a huge shift underway in agriculture as technology continues to enable the digitisation of farming,” said Brook Porter, Partner at KPCB Green Growth Fund.

Osmington is a private commercial real estate company owned by Thomson Reuters chairman, David Thomson. The company made its first investment in Farmers Edge in 2015.

The raise comes on the heels of a $24.6 million growth funding round by US agri data company FarmLink. Other companies using high level data analysis in agriculture that have received funding in the last year include SWIIM Systems, Descartes Labs and AeroFarms. Industry experts have told Agri Investor they expect to see even more companies trying to bring data into agriculture in 2016.