Agri PE firm launches agtech testing programme

Integrated Ag has created Integrated Ag Labs, a programme designed to innovate and test new agtech and advanced farm practices in order to boost water and energy efficiency, lower operating costs, increase crop yield and improve plant health.

A private equity firm focused on investing in farmland in the south-western United States is testing new agtech and advanced farming practices to provide resource and efficiency benefits, and has implemented products to increase operating margins on its own farms.

Integrated Ag has created Integrated Ag Labs, designed to innovate and test new technologies which it hopes will lead to increased efficiency of water and energy resources, lower operating costs, increased crop yields and improved plant health, according to a statement.

Based in Scottsdale, Arizona, Integrated Ag is focused on acquiring and rehabilitating distressed or underutilised US Southwestern farmland and direct crop production.

Technological innovation will be critical to meeting the challenges of the future. The US Environmental Protection Agency warns that the region is projected to experience more severe droughts as the climate warms, with reduced snowpack and rainfall leading to further reductions in water supplies. It says future water scarcity will be compounded by the region’s rapid population growth, which is the highest in the nation, with some states growing at double or triple the national average of 9.7 percent.

The programmeis currently testing water chemistry, plant nutrient uptake synthesis, alternative forms of compound fertiliser blends, soil chemistry, and dynamic field sensor- related technologies.

“The programme allows for original thought and experimentation by our talented team of farm managers, agronomists, and engineers. Successful programme graduates are already increasing operating margins within our direct farm operating companies,” portfolio manager Jeff Dreyer said in a statement.

Outside its agtech program, securities filings from May 2015 show that the firm raised $17.5 million for Integrated Ag Partners LP, a private equity fund, from 17 investors. It is unclear what the target and expected closing date of the fund is.