Food & Drink

How These AgTech Companies Are Increasing Sustainability For Farmers While Maintaining Profitability

It’s hard to imagine a world where sustainability and profitability coexist to benefit both the environment and corporations. But Brynne Stanton, head of strategic innovation at biotech company Joyn Bio, sees a way.

Speaking at the Forbes Future of Food Summit Wednesday, Stanton detailed how Joyn Bio is engineering microbes to produce fertilizer as a more viable alternative to industrially produced fertilizers.

“The idea behind that is to really pair this revolutionary technology of synthetic biology with agriculture, to give growers new tools that are both sustainable and innovative without compromising yield and without compromising profits,” Stanton says.

Gaurab Chakrabarti, CEO and cofounder of specialty chemicals company Solugen, also views microbes as a sustainable path to the future. Chakrabarti, who appeared on Forbes’ 2017 30 Under 30 Manufacturing & Industry list, partners with farmers and growers to find ways they can raise their profit margins. Solugen manufactures cheaper and more effective industrial chemicals to help make water management and fertilizer more eco-friendly. 

“We’re servants to the farmers and the idea is how do we create that balance between profitability and sustainability for everyone,” Chakrabarti says.

At 100-year-old Wilbur-Ellis, which sells agricultural products like seeds, machinery, fertilizer and animal feed, that balance is also top of mind. “To make it 100 years is the definition of sustainability,” Buckley says. “But the other piece I think is important is that you don’t last long without being profitable.”

For Shannon Hauf, senior vice president of seed production innovation at pharmaceutical company Bayer, sustainability is about more than just providing sustainable solutions to farmers. It’s also about looking at Bayer’s own footprint in the agricultural landscape. As one of the largest global seed producers, Bayer is trying to pay attention to its fuel usage, specifically from the dryers that dry its seeds. 

“It’s a lot of little things done around the world that add up to a really significant big impact and that’s what our focus is each day in thinking about how we produce seeds for our farmers,” Hauf says.“Our challenge each year is to do it better than we did the year before, increasing our yields, but doing it using fewer inputs.”


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