I had the privilege of spending the weekend with Scott and his wife Ann who are from Deloraine, MB and live in San Mateo in the winter as Scott is a partner in Fall Line Capital. Scott is the head agronomist and brings a wealth of knowledge to the investment fund as he has a lifetime of experience gleaned from time as an ag rep in Manitoba and establishing the WADO research centre in Melita. Scott still manages his own farm and is probably one of the most well connected people in agriculture that I know. Fall line Capital is focused on making investments in farm properties and ag tech with conservation as one of their core principles. In business since 2011, they are establishing themselves as the go to people in the ag investment world as investors look to secure sound long term investments. It does seem fitting that they are headquartered in San Mateo amongst the offices of tech startups and the giants of the silicon valley offering a place to securely put money.
As my focus at home is more on cultural practices to create a well functioning farm ecosystem I sometimes need to be reminded of how much tech has to offer and will disrupt how things happen on the farm. Fall Line also has investments in about 20 ag tech startups with very exciting potential. One being a corn planter that lays a biodegradable plastic to create opportunities to grow longer season crops in higher latitude areas where lack of heat and frost can be challenging. Another company they have investments with is looking at being able to provide rtk guidance using cell towers with off the shelf equipment making the cost a very small fraction of what it currently is. Another company they have investments in are looking at RNA technology that shows promise to fusarium and sclerotinia control. One problem they have found is that as these technologies are developed they can get sidetracked as other industries find uses for the technology and ag development is put on hold. For example, the rtk company’s current focus is on autonomous cars and the RNA technology has applications in the medical industry creating vaccines. Good problem to have from an investment standpoint, but that leaves us agriculturalists patiently waiting for these technologies to enter our arena.
A key point that came out of discussions around regenerative agriculture is that we need to be careful of people that are in the business of marketing themselves. When we embrace the principles of regenerative agriculture it can be empowering but it also can be very risky as each individual farm and situation is different. I encourage everyone who is on a path to regeneration to move at their own pace and not caught up in dramatic outcomes until they have experimented at home under their own conditions and management ability.
Scott and Ann were great hosts and I can’t thank them enough for their hospitality. Not only is Scott an agricultural genius, the tour he gave me of the San Francisco area was very enlightening as he knows a great deal of the area’s history and fun facts about everything. And Ann even did my laundry and ironed my shirt!