Investment opportunity: On-farm trials platform giving agribusiness and growers more accurate insights
Laconik is seeking investors and partners to take their on-farm trials platform to the next level. Laconik helps companies bring new products to market quicker and with less risk by enabling growers and agribusinesses to test new products at a whole-of-paddock level. The platform captures data and assesses product performance in a way that cannot be done in small pilot trials.
Billions of dollars are spent each year on the research and development (R&D) of new agricultural technologies, with the pipeline of discovery, trialling, and regulatory approval often taking more than 10 years.
Darren Hughes saw an opportunity to help businesses capture value sooner and mitigate risks earlier in the R&D pipeline and developed a globally scalable, on-farm trials platform, Laconick, which is currently listed on the AgriFutures growAG. website.
A former General Manager at Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), Darren said Laconik embraced spatial variability in on-farm trials, such as differences in fertility, watering and soil depth.
“Small-plot trials have traditionally been used to collect safety and efficacy data for a new product, but they don’t always evaluate the new product under every ‘real-world’ condition it will face once it has been commercially released,” said Darren.
“By transitioning to trials spread over a whole paddock, we can look at the impact of different soil types, different elevations, different stubble loadings – all the variables that impact crop growth.
“Data from larger trials is more useful and believable for growers than small-plot trial data.”
Laconik uses satellite imagery to monitor how crops are responding to different treatments, and easily syncs with major digital agriculture platforms for the seamless collection and transfer of data.
The enabling technology was first used in crop nutrition and is now being used to measure spatial crop responses to inputs such as herbicides, fungicides, seeding rates and biologicals.
Providing meaningful insights
GRDC is currently utilising Laconik to test the effects of nitrogen fertiliser carrying over from one year’s crop to the next, with the two-year project aiming to increase grower confidence in introducing fallow into farming rotations.
Bayer Crop Science turned to Laconik to collect data on herbicides and fungicides nearing market readiness after grower-applied trials weren’t generating the meaningful yield data the company was aiming for.
“The trials weren’t capturing the natural variation across grower’s paddocks, let alone a national picture, so we were seeking new ways to optimise our pre-launch activities to ensure success for the grower and demonstrate the confidence we have in our new innovations coming to market,” said Rick Horbury, Head of Market Development for Australia and New Zealand at Bayer.
“Laconik connects the dots from the confidence we have in our products to a grower reality.”
Matthew Willis, Market Development Agronomist for Bayer Australia, said using Laconik was all about more rigorous crop safety testing.
“At the final stage of product development, we do not always have large volumes of chemical, so to be able to use Laconik swarm trials to pick up greater environmental variation and test over more environments gives growers a lot more confidence on the extensive work we have done on ensuring crop safety for new products prior to release,” said Matthew
Helping determine inputs
Producers are also using Laconik to support their ongoing farm management decisions.
For Kim Graham, farming near Bonnie Rock in Western Australia, the number one risk he has to manage is the medium-to-low rainfall.
“We address it by playing the season each year, making decisions as the season unfolds to expand or retract our program accordingly,” said Kim.
“Decisions are made on input costs, labour availability, required machine capacity and inter-operability of machines and their operating software.
“Laconik enables us to run our own on-farm trials to determine inputs, such as fertilisers, to suit our specific farms and capture variability in our paddocks without relying on trial results from kilometres or maybe districts away.
“The platform is easily integrated into our software platforms on all our machines. It is also simple for Laconik support to access our historic data to generate the following year’s trial nutrition map for a paddock.”
Capturing value sooner
The platform is gaining traction in Australia, but Darren has loftier goals.
“We have grown rapidly in Australia and are now looking to expand into European and North American markets,” he said.
“We know a lot of companies would benefit from this platform, so we’re looking for new partners who want to bring their products to market sooner.
“We’re helping companies capture crop safety, product efficacy and yield data to support marketing and promotions.
“As a product moves through the R&D pipeline you start to get more economic return from your investment. What Laconik can do is bring forward the timeline and help capture value sooner.
“It helps bring new products to market, faster, cheaper and with less risk than ever before.”
Along with new customers looking to test their product, Laconik is seeking investment from angel, venture and corporate investors for a Series A $2 to3 million capital raise to help capture new markets and upgrade their software.
For more on this opportunity, visit the AgriFutures growAG. website.
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^This investment opportunity is only for professional and sophisticated investors as defined in the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth). The content of this opportunity is intended for use by persons having professional experience in matters relating to investments and must not be acted or relied upon by any other person including, without limitation, retail clients.
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