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Monsanto, Climate Corporation add soil analysis business

Jeff Caldwell 02/20/2014 @ 4:16pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Facebook's acquisition of the texting application WhatsApp got a lot of headlines earlier this week for one big reason: The deal's $19 billion price tag. But it wasn't the only Silicon Valley merger of note this week, especially for the ag sector.

When Monsanto bought Climate Corporation last fall, the move opened a connection between agribusiness and the Big Data world of Silicon Valley. That connection strengthened Thursday. Climate Corporation officials announced they've acquired part of Solum, Inc., an ag technology company based in San Francisco, California. Specifically, Climate Corp. took on the company's soil analysis business, a move company officials say will introduce soil analysis into its existing data offerings for farmers.

As part of the deal, Solum is changing the name of its soil analysis business to Granular Inc. The sector is based on the Granular platform, a new system currently in beta testing on a few select farms around the Midwest, according to a company report.

"Each season, farmers face a wide range of soil-related decisions that can help them improve the productivity of the finite land they farm. High-quality, consistent soil analysis will ensure that farmers, agronomists, and ag retailers can offer and access improved decision support resources to increase on-farm efficiency," says Climate Corporation CEO David Friedberg. "Essentially, with more accurate and consistent data inputs, the insights and recommendations we provide for farmers can be more precisely customized to their fields, helping them make better decisions for their farms."

The soil analysis addition will shore up another space in the gamut of variables critical to growing a predictable crop, adds Solum cofounder Nick Koshnick.

"We look forward to continuing our work with agricultural retailers and agronomists and to building new working relationships with Monsanto’s channel partners to help them provide a complete soil-testing solution that gives farmers the information they need to focus their input dollars where they will generate the highest yield and return," he says.

The deal will ultimately yield a more complete data picture for farmers, encompassing variables from the ground up, says Friedberg, whose company became part of Monsanto last October.

"The technology The Climate Corporation is gaining in this acquisition, as well as the research and development we currently have underway, will continue to improve our ability to deliver better insights and recommendations to farmers," he says.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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