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Timber exec leads $8m raise for precision agri company

Reid Carter of Brookfield timber is leading a group of high net worth investors in a precision agri company that aims to reduce pesticide use on tree crops.

A managing partner at Brookfield Timberland, Reid Carter, has led a group of high net worth individuals in an $8 million raise for Vancouver-based precision agtech company Semios.

Carter led the raise in a personal capacity, and will represent the investors as a director on Semios’ board.

Semios will expand use the capital sales for its permanent crop-focused precision agtech in California’s Central Valley and central and eastern Washington State.

Carter told Agri Investor that Semios stands out because it overcomes the technical challenge of wireless monitoring in dense orchards. By focusing on high-margin perennial crops, the value proposition for a given area of coverage is significantly higher than for products targeted at other crops, he said.

“What is different about Semios is that they can work in dense-canopy trees,” said Carter. “The revenue per acre [for tree crops] is significantly higher than you would find in almost all row crops. The inputs on a per-acre basis are much higher as well… [Given the savings] it’s really very inexpensive for perennial crop producers to make this sort of investment compared with row crop producers that get much lower revenue per acre.”

Semios’ platform tracks soil moisture and monitors for freeze risks. It also detects and treats pest presence through species-specific pheromones that disrupts the mating of certain insects, said Carter.

“That’s a very different strategy that we don’t know of anybody else using,” he said. “It’s been very attractive to our customers.”

The use of pheromones as a pest deterrent could potentially reduce costs for growers, while also meeting consumer preference for food products grown with minimal chemical exposure.

Permanent crops, including tree crops, tend to bring higher margins for growers than major grains and other annual crops. However, they are also considered higher risk, as crops lost to weather events or blight can take years to replace. Similarly, permanent crop producers are less adaptable to changes in consumer demand.