US agritech company – Sound Agriculture – has today announced a US$75 million Series D equity investment. The new funding will be used to expand the firm’s existing Nutrient Efficiency and On-Demand Breeding business lines. Since its founding in 2013, the company has raised a total of US$155 million to develop nature-based solutions for sustainable food production, replacing up to 30% of climate damaging synthetic fertiliser and breeding tastier, healthier and more sustainable crops.
Reducing dependence on synthetic fertilisers – SOURCE
Described by the company as ‘like caffeine for microbes’, Sound’s flagship ‘Nutrient Efficiency’ product – SOURCE – is applied to crops as a foliar spray. It signals to microbes and bacteria in the soil to increase nitrogen fixation and phosphorus solubilisation. For growers of corn, SOURCE reduces the need for synthetic fertiliser by up to 50lbs per acre while maintaining or improving yields. This also helps to restore the natural connection between plant and microbe that is weakened by the use of synthetic nitrogen.
In 2023, the biochemical technology product is being launched for use on wheat, cotton, alfalfa, hay and canola, in addition to corn and soybeans, and will be expanding internationally. By 2030, Sound is targeting the reduction of more than 100 megatons of CO2 equivalent and the avoidance of 4 billion pounds of nitrates from waterways as SOURCE scales.
Sound’s On-Demand Breeding business uses epigenetics to breed novel plant traits ten times faster than traditional methods at a fraction of the cost, and without changing the plant’s DNA. It takes 7 to 10 years to create a new plant variety using traditional breeding methods. With on-demand breeding, crop attributes can be improved in a fraction of the time by tuning expression of a plant’s natural traits up or down.
Since 2020, Sound has signed partnerships with over a dozen leading food and agriculture companies to improve flavour, reduce spoilage, increase yield and enhance nutrition in a variety of crops such as corn, soybeans, wheat, potatoes, yellow peas and tomatoes.
Committed to sustainable food systems
“Our food system needs to change and it needs to happen quickly,” said Adam Litle, CEO, Sound Agriculture. “We’re committed to fighting a trifecta of issues that include food insecurity, environmental damage and poor health — all of which are addressable with the right technology and practices. We will use this investment to advance our research platforms, grow sales and marketing in the U.S. and abroad, and sign new partnerships to support better methods of farming and food system resiliency.”
The new US$75 million Series D was led by new investors BMO Impact Investment Fund and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, along with FootPrint Coalition and returning investors Leaps by Bayer, Syngenta Group Ventures, S2G Ventures, Fall Line Capital, Cavallo Ventures and Northpond Ventures.
“The Sound management team has delivered rapid growth of their high-margin nutrient efficiency business and developed an innovative on-demand breeding platform that creates a step change in how plant traits are bred. The team’s depth and success across these two business lines will impact the full breadth of the food system; from production to consumption,” said Marc Khouzami, Managing Director, BMO Impact Investment Fund. “The BMO Impact Investment Fund is thrilled to be partnering with the team to help drive the next phase of the company’s growth and the development of new solutions to increase sustainability in agriculture.”