Dec 7, 2022 · 5 min read

Sound Agriculture Raises $75 Million Series D to Advance Climate-Smart Agriculture and Sustainable Food Production

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Sound Agriculture is CZI Ventures’ third climate impact investment, aimed at reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. Sound is creating solutions to help reduce the 3-5% of global greenhouse gas emissions that occur from fertilizer manufacturing and use.

EMERYVILLE, Calif. — Sound Agriculture, a leading agtech company improving how we farm and what we eat, announced a $75 million Series D equity investment, led by new investors BMO Impact Investment Fund and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, along with FootPrint Coalition and returning investors Leaps by Bayer, Syngenta Group Ventures, S2G Ventures, Fall Line Capital, Cavallo Ventures and Northpond Ventures. Since its founding in 2013, the company has raised a total of $155 million to develop nature-based solutions for sustainable food production, replacing up to 30% of climate damaging synthetic fertilizer and breeding tastier, healthier and more sustainable crops.

The new funding will be used to expand Sound’s Nutrient Efficiency and On-Demand Breeding business lines.

  • Sound’s Nutrient Efficiency business includes its flagship product, SOURCE® that activates the soil microbiome via a biochemistry foliar spray. SOURCE signals to microbes that already exist in the soil to increase nitrogen fixation and phosphorus solubilization, reducing the need for synthetic fertilizer in corn by up to 50 lbs per acre while maintaining or improving yields.
  • Sound’s On-Demand Breeding business uses epigenetics to breed novel plant traits 10x faster than traditional methods at a fraction of the cost, and without changing the plant’s DNA. Since 2020, Sound has signed partnerships with over a dozen leading food and agriculture companies to improve flavor, reduce spoilage, increase yield and enhance nutrition in a variety of crops such as corn, soybeans, wheat, potatoes, yellow peas and tomatoes.

“Our food system needs to change and it needs to happen quickly,” said Adam Litle, CEO, Sound Agriculture. “We’re committed to fighting a trifecta of issues that include food insecurity, environmental damage and poor health — all of which are addressable with the right technology and practices. We will use this investment to advance our research platforms, grow sales and marketing in the U.S. and abroad, and sign new partnerships to support better methods of farming and food system resiliency.”

SOURCE has seen rapid adoption since its launch in 2020, with 4.3x growth in 2022 and use on more than one million U.S. acres. In the process, SOURCE was used to either replace nitrogen fertilizer without impacting yield, or increase yields on farms with efficient nitrogen fertilizer practices.

“The Sound management team has delivered rapid growth of their high-margin nutrient efficiency business and developed an innovative on-demand breeding platform that creates a step change in how plant traits are bred. The team’s depth and success across these two business lines will impact the full breadth of the food system; from production to consumption,” said Marc Khouzami, Managing Director, BMO Impact Investment Fund. “The BMO Impact Investment Fund is thrilled to be partnering with the team to help drive the next phase of the company’s growth and the development of new solutions to increase sustainability in agriculture.”

In 2023, SOURCE is being launched for use on wheat, cotton, alfalfa, hay and canola, in addition to corn and soybeans, and will be expanding internationally. By 2030, Sound is targeting the reduction of more than 100 megatons of CO2 equivalent and the avoidance of 4 billion pounds of nitrates from waterways as SOURCE scales.

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About the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was founded in 2015 to help solve some of society’s toughest challenges — from eradicating disease and improving education, to addressing the needs of our communities. Through collaboration, providing resources and building technology, our mission is to help build a more inclusive, just and healthy future for everyone. For more information, please visit chanzuckerberg.com.

About Sound Agriculture
Sound Agriculture develops nature-based solutions for tastier, healthier and more sustainable food. Our breakthrough biochemical technology enables agriculture to adapt faster to climate change and evolving consumer preferences, creating healthier food that is also better for the
planet. SOURCE, our flagship product, activates the microbiome to give crops access to more of the nitrogen and phosphorus that exists in the field, improving yield and reducing synthetic fertilizer in corn by up to 50 lbs per acre. Learn more at www.sound.ag.

About BMO Financial Group
Serving customers for 200 years and counting, BMO is a highly diversified financial services provider – the 8th largest bank, by assets, in North America. With total assets of $1.14 trillion as of October 31, 2022, and a team of diverse and highly engaged employees, BMO provides a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and services to more than 12 million customers and conducts business through three operating groups: Personal and Commercial Banking, BMO Wealth Management and BMO Capital Markets.

BMO Impact Investment Fund
The BMO Impact Investment Fund (“IIF”) is a C$350 million equity fund aimed at driving more sustainable outcomes around the world by backing technologies that will help corporations proactively address sustainability and create positive impact for their stakeholders.

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