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ADM, Serra Ventures back agtech start-up

Archer Daniel Midland and Serra Ventures are among the investors in Agrible, an agtech start-up that focuses on predictive analytics.

Agrible, an Illinois-based agtech start-up that focuses on predictive analytics, has raised $4.1 million in a Series A financing round. The round was led by Serra Ventures, a seed and growth stage venture capital firm, and included agri-focused conglomerate Archer Daniels Midland (ADM).

ADM’s backing  “represents a stamp of approval on the uniqueness of [Agrible’s] products and vision”, Dennis Beard, a partner with Serra Ventures, noted in a statement.

“The addition of precision data analytics is yet another way in which ADM is using innovative technology to help our customers and our company succeed,” Brian Young, president of ADM Crop Risk Services, said in a statement. “We’re seeing strong interest among farmers for new, better data and analytical tools. Adding Agrible’s predictive data products to our suite of farmer tools will help us meet that demand.”

As a strategic investor in the round, ADM will “have a hands-off approach and help with the marketing side of the applications”, Chris Harbourt, Agrible’s chief executive, told Agri Investor

At least two other traditional venture investors who did not wish to be named also participated in the Series A round, according to Harbourt.  He declined to provide a breakdown of the amount each group invested. Agrible previously raised $400,000 in seed funding from Serra.

Founded in 2012 in the Midwestern region of the US, where agriculture plays a major role in the regional economy, Agrible develops analytics based on environmental factors to give growers and agricultural companies timely information about field activities and projections of crop performance. Agrible also predicts crops’ performance of up to two weeks or a month into the future given different environmental factors, Harbourt said in an interview.

In February, Agrible launched Morning Farm Report, an app that delivers its four main products: Rainfall, Field Intel, Tractor Time, and Yield Engine, and it is now working on launching the Android version of its free iPhone app Pocket Rain Gauge.

The Series A funding will be used for expanding the team and improving Morning Farm Report, which currently has about 1,000  users, and “with the strong network that ADM provides, we expect the user base to grow to tens of thousands”, Harbourt said.

Serra made the investment from its second fund, Serra Capital II, an $80 million fund closed in October 2013 that invests in information technology, devices and instrumentation and materials and agtech.