SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, U.S. — The Climate Corp., a subsidiary of St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.-based Monsanto Co., on Aug. 17 unveiled what it is calling “an unprecedented advancement in digital agriculture”: the development of the industry’s first network of in-field sensors to relay data on crop conditions back to farmers.

According to Climate Corp., the new sensor network will create a true digital agricultural ecosystem to support agronomic decisions farmers make each crop season to protect and increase yield.

Climate Corp. chief technology officer Mark Young
Mark Young, chief technology officer for Climate Corp.

“Our platform extension marks an evolutionary step forward for agriculture technology, representing the industry’s first centralized platform for diverse technology development from other companies,” said Mark Young, chief technology officer for Climate Corp. “The extension of our platform goes beyond the cloud-to-cloud data transfer agreements we’ve made with many industry collaborators. By welcoming other ag innovators to contribute to and build upon our platform, we’re helping simplify the complex digital ag landscape for farmers and making it easier for other ag innovators to bring valuable new technologies to farmers faster.”

Climate Corp. said it will allow third parties to build upon and provide additional layers of data for its Climate FieldView software platform. Its first partner in developing the platform is Veris Technologies Inc., which manufactures and markets high-resolution, on-the-go soil sensing technology that produces precise maps of soil texture, organic matter and pH.

“We’re excited to incorporate the high-resolution soil maps from Veris as a new data layer for our agronomic models in the Climate FieldView platform,” Young said. “The addition of this valuable soil information will enable our models to provide insights for farmers that are even more customized to their unique fields.”

Monsanto, the world’s largest seed supplier, acquired Climate Corp. in 2013 for $930 million. Climate Corp. was founded in 2006 by software engineers and data scientists who wanted to develop an advanced technology platform that delivered hyper-local weather monitoring, agronomic data modeling and high-resolution weather simulations to help farmers manage risk.

Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant
Hugh Grant, chairman and chief executive officer of Monsanto.

In an Aug. 17 conference call with investors, Hugh Grant, chairman and chief executive officer of Monsanto, described Climate Corp. as the “glue” or “catalyst” that will bring together breeding, biotechnology, biologicals and chemistry by bringing better insights to growers and optimizing their yield.

“We see Climate Corp. as the heart of the ability to drive new yield insights for the grower and how we apply the right amount of chemistry at the right time on the right acres,” Grant said. “And there is clearly opportunities in each step in that today. In the future we’ll manage inputs with a data-driven approach, and we will do a better job in controlling diseases, controlling bugs before they become a major problem and using fertilizer in a more timely basis.”

Grant added that Monsanto anticipates that gross profit from the Climate platform will be in the range of “a few hundred million dollars.” He said Monsanto anticipates its paying acres on the platform will be somewhere between 300 million and 400 million acres by 2025.

“As we think about Climate, we see it as the Amazon of agriculture, where we are bringing additional apps (up onto) that platform and we have the best apps (to win),” he said.

Monsanto president coo Brett Begemann
Brett Begemann, president and chief operating officer of Monsanto.

Expanding on Grant’s comments, Brett Begemann, president and chief operating officer of Monsanto, said, “Amazon started out selling books; Google started out doing search. And their businesses evolved to very different places with a very broad platform. And I am not suggesting we will be Google or Amazon, but what I am suggesting is that concept that they utilized to expand their business is very real and how we think about it, which is why we have been so quick to invite others onto the platform. We want others to participate with us so that we can bring all this information together.

“And the winners in this are those that can help the farmer make better decisions with better insights. It isn’t about storing the data and getting the data, it is about helping the farmer make better decisions. And I think we are in a great place to do that.”