Invested Development (ID), an early stage impact investment fund manager, has invested in Rowbot Systems, an agriculture technology startup in Minnesota. Rowbot Systems is developing an autonomous robotic machine for precise nitrogen fertilizer applications and cover crop seeding in corn fields and other row crops.
Rowbot’s autonomous machine navigates within narrow rows to allow for precision application even when crops like corn become too tall for tractor-drawn equipment or high-clearance machines. Rowbot charges by the acre for its service, but promises quick payback through increased yield and reduced nitrogen fertilizer loss, while strengthening stewardship of the land and water.
In particular, Rowbot’s service model removes the barriers to adoption for in-season nitrogen management by eliminating the cost of an upfront investment in sidedressing equipment or high-clearance machinery. Growers are excited by in-season nitrogen management practices thanks to success stories touted in recent years. With the introduction of Rowbot, many more will feel comfortable implementing in-season nitrogen management practices knowing they have the tools available to do so.
Invested Development was attracted to this opportunity because it eliminates any tradeoff between economic, social or environmental goals in agriculture. It allows farmers to gain the positive benefits that nitrogen has on crop yield, while minimizing the harmful impacts it can have on the environment when used in excess. Nitrogen has contributed to some of the most significant growth in output in cereal yield over the last century, but leakage of nitrogen from fields also has created water quality issues, both close to home and downstream, such as the low-oxygen zone in the Gulf of Mexico. With the population set to grow to 9 billion by 2050 and urbanization trends climbing, we need to sustainably manage our food production while protecting our finite resources, including water and land, says the company.
The investment comes from the BSP Fund, ID’s seed stage equity fund focused on investing in information and communication technology, alternative energy, and agriculture technology solutions for underserved markets. Due to demographic shifts and limited resources, growers need to optimize resource use and minimize environmental impact in order to stay competitive and meet the growing demand for food. Rowbot allows farmers to do exactly that.
Rowbot joins ID’s BSP Fund portfolio of 13 companies across the U.S., Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia, which are all committed to using technology to overcome some of the world’s greatest challenges.
About Invested Development
Invested Development is an impact investment fund manager. The mission of the company is to provide risk capital investments in early stage startups with mobile technology, agriculture technology and alternative energy innovations for underserved markets. It manages the BSP Fund, an early stage equity fund, and the Impact Factoring Fund, a working capital fund.
Rowbot Systems is an early-stage company that is developing solutions to enable the implementation of best practices that are well known to reduce the waste of costly inputs, like nitrogen fertilizer, while helping growers to hit higher yield targets. Its first service offerings are precision application of nitrogen fertilizer on fields of growing corn and cover crop seeding, also on corn fields, prior to the corn harvest.