Crystal City agriculture-tech startup EarthOptics raises nearly $28M

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that highlights Arlington-based startups, founders, and local tech news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

Crystal City agriculture-tech startup EarthOptics recently announced it has raised nearly $28 million in Series B funding.

The startup helps farmers make data-driven decisions about when to fertilize and how to reduce tilling — a soil-disturbing farming technique that releases carbon into the atmosphere. The company says tilling less improves food quality and reduces costs and carbon emissions.

The $27.6 million raised will go toward improving the capabilities of its suite of soil sensors and mappers to meet increasing interest from farmers and ranchers in EarthOptics products.

“Our industry-leading technology has huge potential for farmers and agribusiness,” CEO Lars Dyrud said in a statement. “With small margins and unpredictable input prices, farmers are looking for ways to improve productivity. Our product does that in a way that fits seamlessly into individual operations. Farmers no longer must rely on expensive soil analysis from labs. Powerful soil insights from EarthOptics can transform the way decisions are made on the farm.”

EarthOptics’ TillMapper helps farmers decide if, when, where and how deep to till (courtesy photo)

The funding round announcement comes on the heels of a successful year for EarthOptics, which says the number of acres it covers and the number of partnerships it has with global food companies grew tenfold in 2022. Last fall, Arlington County highlighted the company as one of the county’s fastest growing startups, in part for its $10.3 million Series A fundraising round in October 2021.

Also last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture named EarthOptics a partner in the agency’s Climate Smart Partnership for six separate proposals.

One proposal is an eight-state effort to make the nation’s beef supply chain carbon neutral. Another would promote the planting of an oilseed crop, which would be harvested for renewable biofuels and would increase how much carbon farmers capture in the soil.

The startup says it is looking for even more partnerships this year.

“We believe EarthOptics has a clear advantage in soil measurement technology, as they improve the scalability of measurement while helping to reduce extrapolation error” said Chris Abbott, Co-Head of Conti Ventures, which invested the most money in this fundraising round. “As we look for technologies that can verify critical soil measurements for growers, we believe EarthOptics stands out in providing agronomic value as well as verification for initiatives like carbon credits.”

Another investment group, Rabobank’s food and agriculture investment fund, said in a statement that the “revival of interest in soil is highly encouraging and much needed.”

“Given the fundamental importance of soil health to the food and agriculture systems, we are excited to support Lars and his team in bringing EarthOptics’ truly disruptive solution to our bank’s global network of farmers, corporates, as well [as] our ecosystem services teams of The Carbon Bank and ACORN,” said Pieter van der Meche, who heads the fund.