Unless you have never stepped foot outside of a city, you have likely witnessed America’s agricultural industry in action in some way or another. We truly do feed the world, and our nation has been blessed with abundant farmland and the natural resources to grow crops and raise livestock. But, as with any massive industry, there is an environmental price. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that agriculture is the second-largest contributor to climate change.
The world of innovative agriculture has set out to mitigate the environmental impact of food production, and one company just got the financial boost they need to accomplish this mission.
Iron Ox has set out to eliminate food waste, further precision agriculture, scale production appropriately, and give a technological overhaul to food production. “At Iron Ox, we also believe the best food is grown locally and recently,” explains a company spokesman.
“Our growing facilities use advanced robotics to cultivate perfect, nutritious produce by giving each plant the specific attention it needs, and then getting it on a store shelf nearby within about a day of harvest…Most importantly, we understand that addressing agriculture’s impact on climate is an immediate need. Precision food production, at scale, is urgently needed to address the impacts of our food system. This isn’t something we should do; it’s something we must do.”
Iron Ox just sealed a $53 million investment deal with Breakthrough Energy Ventures, proving that they are not the only ones who believe in this mission. Established in 2015, Breakthrough Energy was founded by Bill Gates and a group of investors concerned about climate change. They fund the types of innovative projects that they believe will help the world achieve net-zero carbon emissions.
Speaking about the deal, Iron Ox CEO and co-founder Brandon Alexander stated:
“World-class investors know that humanity’s most important pursuit is to reverse climate change. To get there, we can’t settle for incrementally more sustainable crops — and we can’t ask consumers to compromise on taste, convenience or value. We are applying technology to minimize the amount of land, water and energy needed to nourish a growing population. The team at Iron Ox will not stop until we achieve our long-term mission of making the produce sector carbon negative.”
This investment will give Iron Ox the boost they need to do what they do best – farm differently. The company grows food in proprietary greenhouses that are defined by precision. Each plant is monitored through a combination of robotics and artificial intelligence to get optimal levels of water, nutrition, and sunshine. This results in less waste and better starting points for future plants. This process leads to faster growing cycles, improved yield, and accurate yield predictions.
Another bonus? The robot that roams their greenhouses to move plants from place to place (named Grover) is adorable.
Iron Ox is paving the way toward the future of precision agriculture, one plant at a time. With an investment from individuals who harnessed the ability to create change through the free market, they will have an even greater capacity to build tomorrow’s agricultural processes.
Kelvey Vander Hart is a native Iowan and a senior staff writer for the American Conservation Coalition.