The seeds farmers plant in their fields can carry certain desirable traits, such as drought tolerance or pest resistance. Breeding or genetic engineering can produce such traits, but ag biotech startup Inari Agriculture aims to take trait development to a new level—customizing seeds to grow best in the soil and weather at the farm where they’ll be planted.
Cambridge, MA-based Inari is emerging from stealth…to allow a peek at its technology and its plans. CEO Ponsi Trivisvavet…says Inari has developed a way to optimize seeds to fit local conditions, such as the humidity, the day and night-time temperatures, and even the soil type of a farm. She says the company, founded in 2016, aims to bring its “personalized seed for farmers” into field testing by [2019’s] growing season.
Wheat, soybean, and corn will be the company’s first targets. The time savings will come from the use of computational agronomy and gene-editing techniques; cost savings will come from the reduced need for fertilizers and other crop inputs, Trivisvavet says. She adds that the Inari seeds should produce higher yields, and enable farmers to grow a higher-value crop. For example, the technology can develop wheat varieties that have higher protein content, which would allow farmers to sell their wheat as a premium product.
If all goes well in field trials, Trivisvavet says that the Inari technology [will be used] to develop customized seeds that can be sold to growers in the U.S., and eventually, the rest of the world.
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