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Advantage Capital invests in precision irrigation company

The USDA and Farm Credit System-backed PE fund has invested $5m into Hortau, a California-based precision irrigation company.

Advantage Capital Agribusiness Partners (ACAP), the private equity fund backed by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Farm Credit System, has invested $5 million into precision irrigation management company Hortau.

Founded in 2002, Hortau specialises in building wireless and web-based irrigation management systems. These help growers detect plant stress, ensuring optimal crop growth while reducing water and energy use.

ACAP’s investment follows a venture capital round by Hortau last year which included a $3 million investment from the $99 million Avrio Ventures Fund II, Canadian VC firm Avrio Capital’s second vehicle.

The funding will be used to grow Hortau’s US operations, including its technical support team and service for its mobile platform and in-field irrigation management systems.

“Agriculture is currently going through an evolution phase, using data-driven technologies to bring more precision and insight to the daily decision processes. Our technology is right in line with this trend, enabling growers to make better use of water resources and of various ag inputs while optimising their return,” Jocelyn Boudreau, Hortau chief executive officer, said in a statement. “This new partnership with Advantage Capital will allow us to make our system more affordable and accessible to our growers, accelerating adoption and creating a true win-win situation for the industry.”

“Hortau’s proven soil-sensing technology provides farmers with a tremendous value proposition in terms of both crop yield improvements and water conservation, which is driving strong growth in the business,” Tim Hassler, principal at Advantage Capital, said in a statement.

Headquartered in California, Hortau has offices throughout North America.

ACAP is a $154.5-million fund, licensed as a Rural Business Investment Company (RBIC) by the USDA. The fund focuses on rural businesses involved in the production, processing and supply of agricultural products. It ha made two investments this year so far, into Iowa Cage-Free in February and into American Botanicals in April.